JOHN SHIRK – 2014 is the Year of Celebration at WJTL. Listen each day for moments of celebration from God’s Word. We will examine the attributes of God, His mighty deeds in the past, and the hopeful future that He is planning for His people.
Today’s Moment of Celebration reflects on the reliability of God’s promises.
When the Israelites were set free from slavery, God was not just delivering them from despair. He was taking them into the desert so that they might be free to worship Him. He was sending them on a journey that would lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey.
The Israelites were not always faithful to God on that journey, but He was always faithful to them. They spent 40 years wandering in the desert, but through the leadership of Joshua, the Israelites eventually took the Promised Land.
Reflecting on God’s faithfulness, Joshua 21:43 says, “So, the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession. Verse 45 says, “Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” God keeps His promises, which means, not only is He good, but He is also strong. He can do what it takes to fulfill the promise that He keeps.
The reliability of God’s promises is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Jesus would be born as God’s gift to us.
This promise appears in Isaiah 9:6-“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince Of Peace.”
Jesus is the expression of God’s grace. He is not a trophy to earn, but a gift to receive. Over and over in the Bible, we are told that God’s grace is a gift to receive and is necessary for eternal life.
Ephesians 2:8 and 9 says, “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.”
And Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This Christmas, there is not a more complete package with greater, long-lasting value than to receive the gift of God’s grace in the person of Jesus Christ.
The promise that Jesus would be born as God’s gift to us is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – In Isaiah 7:14, the prophet said, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
When Gabriel the angel announced to Mary that she would give birth to a son, she asked him, “How will this be since I am a virgin?”
That is when the angel explained how this would happen: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” The Holy Spirit plants the seed for God’s holy purposes to be achieved.
Jesus was born as the Son of God, He never sinned, and became uniquely qualified to be our Savior and Lord by His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.
The name “Immanuel” means “God with us.” Jesus was God’s visitation to the world and is God’s invitation to the world to know Him through faith in His holy name.
The promise that Jesus would be born of a virgin is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – In Micah 5:2, we read about the birthplace of God’s anointed leader:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
The name “Bethlehem” is significant because it means “House of Bread.” Jesus identified Himself as the bread of life. So, entering the world stage as a baby in the manger, Jesus came to the House of Bread, as the Bread of Life.
His birth in Bethlehem was planned long before it really happened. The location of Christ’s birthplace is sending the signal to the world that just as bread satisfies physical hunger, so Jesus is our vital source for satisfaction for spiritual hunger.
And just as Jesus came to Bethlehem, which was considered small and insignificant, so He approaches people who are humble, and raises them up for extraordinary purposes.
The promise that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – Ephesians 2:17 says about Jesus that “he came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him, we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
At the birth of Jesus, angelic messengers made the declaration, “Glory to God in the highest. And on earth, peace among men in whom he is well pleased.” The favor of God brings peace to the soul. Jesus offered Jews and Gentiles a message of peace with God. He invited us to come to Him to find rest for our weary soul. His blood shed on the cross is a message that we do not have to live as God’s enemies anymore. We can enjoy a relationship with Him that refreshes our spirit and makes us a new person. He can replace bitterness with tenderness. He can remove the weeds of hatred and plant the seeds of love. He can calm our fears and give us quiet assurance that through Jesus, our hope is secure.
The peace that Jesus brought with His coming is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.”
This statement was connected to Jesus in Matthew chapter 4. Jesus fulfilled these words of the prophet with His words of life, His touch of healing, and ultimately, by His death and resurrection from the grave.
In the Bible, darkness is often connected with sin and death. There is a spirit of despair in the heart of someone who is caught in the grip of spiritual darkness. Jesus came as the Light of the world. As we welcome His light, the shadows that cause despair flee under His influence of grace and truth. We live with freedom from guilt and shame. We live with the certain hope of eternal life. We live with the awareness that God loves us with an unfailing love. We live with a sense of joy in belonging to His spiritual family. And we live with a heavenly purpose, to reach souls for the Gospel through our witness for Jesus.
The hope that Jesus brought with His coming is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – Philippians 2:14 gives us a direct word of instruction that will affect our relationships and our witness for God if we heed the message.
“Do everything without complaining or arguing.” Persistent complaining or an argumentative spirit saps the energy from relationships. The Israelites in Moses’ day were known for complaining about their plight on the way to the Promised Land, and they got nowhere fast. Complaints focus on the problem, without seeking a solution or without turning to prayer. A thankful person will recognize problems, but can also see opportunities through life’s challenges.
Paul, the writer of Philippians, knew that complaining or arguing undermined the strength of the church’s witness for Jesus. And so, he proceeds to explain why we should do everything without complaining or arguing-“So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe, as you hold out the word of life.”
With gratitude to God, we can chase away a complaining or arguing spirit, and shine the light of the Gospel to this generation.
The credible witness of a thankful person is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – While physical death is the result of our sin, eternal life is the promise of God for those who receive His grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Revelation 21 pictures a new heaven and a new earth. Life’s harsh realities in our world today will not be present in God’s new world order.
Verse 3 says, “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.”
No more funerals, no more brokenness, no more hospitals, no more bad news. This is the picture of God’s restoration when He makes everything new.
The restoration that God has promised for His people is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – The redemption of Jesus as a Presidential Pardon.
Most presidents in our nation’s history have granted pardons. When this happens, a person who committed a crime is forgiven and restored to the innocence they had before they committed the crime. Their crime is not held against them.
That is the way it works with God’s forgiveness. For the person who looks to Jesus as Savior and Lord, He grants the pardon that releases them from the guilt of their sins.
Isaiah 55 explains how we can experience this life-saving pardon:
Verse 6 says, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”
The redemption of Jesus as a Presidential Pardon is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – A defense attorney represents someone facing a lawsuit or criminal prosecution.
In the courtroom of heaven, God is the judge, and Satan is the prosecuting attorney. He is our accuser. He makes a compelling case for our guilt, as he recites the list of sins that we have committed in our lifetime. But then another voice comes forward to defend us. Jesus makes the case for our innocence, not by denying we did those things, but by acknowledging the shedding of His blood to cover our sins. This is what it’s like for the person who confesses their need for Jesus to save them from their sin.
First John 2:1 says, “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 redemption of Jesus as a defense attorney in a courtroom is a lesson of faith worth remembering.