JOHN SHIRK – We find this word of instruction in Hebrews 13:16: “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
God’s design for our good deeds is for the righteousness of Christ to be exalted. The follower of Christ is motivated to good deeds because the love of Christ is active within us.
After the recent tornado outbreak in Oklahoma, various Christian relief groups moved in to help those devastated by the tornadoes. News broadcasts were drawing attention to the initiative of faith-based groups to come to the aid of those who were suffering.
The compassion of Christ is at the heart of many of these efforts. Doing good and sharing with others will involve sacrifices of personal time. It will require the heart of a servant. There might be a cost involved with making financial donations or buying items that other people need. The risk is worth the potential outcome. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” When we give sacrificially for Christ, God is pleased, practical needs are met, and the door is open for others to give glory to God as a result of our witness.
The “results of sacrificial giving” is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – In Ephesians 3:18, the Apostle Paul prayed that we might grasp the height of God’s love for us.
God’s love is tall to the extreme. Psalm 103:11 says, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.” His love is destined to take His people to new heights, because Jesus said that He would come back and take His followers to be with Him in heaven.
Another way of looking at the height of God’s love is to consider a tower. The name of the Lord is compared to a strong tower that provides safety for the righteous. Towers in cities typically become landmarks for visitors. They might become tourist attractions. They have names that become famous worldwide. The love of God stands tall as a place of refuge in times of danger or uncertainty. We are wise to run there and draw attention to the love of God expressed through the testimony of Jesus.
The height of God’s love is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – In Ephesians 3:18, the Apostle Paul prayed that we might grasp the length of God’s love for us.
The length of God’s love can be considered in light of distance and time. Jesus came from heaven to earth to rescue us from the wages of sin. Isaiah 59:1 says, “The arm of the Lord is not too short to save.” Wherever we are in this world, we are never beyond His reach. As a familiar worship song declares, “You came from heaven to earth to show the way. From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay, from the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky, Lord, I lift your name on high.”
On the time line, the length of God’s love can be compared to an infinite line. The LORD is described in Deuteronomy 33:27 as the eternal God. He has always been, still is, and always will be God. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we have a connection with God the Father, which lasts forever. We will never have to say tearful good-byes in heaven.
The length of God’s love is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – In Ephesians 3:18, the Apostle Paul prayed that we might grasp the width of God’s love for us.
John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God’s love is wide enough to extend around the world and draw people of all cultures into His eternal family. The one thing that His people have in common is that they have received His gift of grace through Jesus Christ, and what He accomplished for us at the cross.
As we come into fellowship with God through faith in Jesus, He removes our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west.
The width of God’s love reveals the global impact of His love to reach every nation by the end of the age, and the personal impact of His love to separate us from our sins.
The width of God’s love is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – In Christ, we see a perfect record of obedience to the Father’s will. He said in John 14:31, “I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” He became the unblemished sacrifice for our sins. Even though He never sinned, He paid the penalty of our sins at the cross. Speaking of Jesus, Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
How does that happen? How can we be made righteous in the eyes of God when our track record shows a history of moral failures? The Bible says that ‘the righteous will live by faith.’ When we trust in the name of Jesus for salvation, God no longer holds our sin against us. We are forgiven and set free from the death sentence that our sins deserve. The sinless life of Christ made Him a worthy sacrifice for our sins. His death and resurrection has made Him the worthy Savior to be praised.
Jesus is in a separate category from every human being who walked on the face of the earth. Because of His sinless record and obedience to death on a cross, God has exalted him to the highest place and has given Him the name that is above every name.
The sinless life of Christ is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – Philippians 2:6 tells us that “being in very nature God, he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!”
Jesus deserved the crown of glory. Instead, He wore the crown of thorns.
Jesus was worthy of being lifted up to a throne of honor. Instead, He suffered the cross of shame.
Jesus was worthy of being served as a distinguished leader. Instead, He came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.
There is an important reason to examine the attitude of Christ. Philippians 2:5 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
The attitude of Jesus is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – In First Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul talked about our situation if Christ did not rise from the dead. He said in verse 14, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
He said, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ we are to be pitied more than all men.”
Paul was living with an eternal perspective. He assures us that Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, and because of His resurrection, those who are in Christ will be made alive.
Jesus told His followers, “Because I live, you also will live.” Because Jesus lives, our failures are not fatal, our faith is not futile, and death is not final. Our labor has purpose, our soul is secure, and our future is forever in the grace of God. This is our hope when our faith is in Christ to save us from our sins.
The hope of the resurrection is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – In his speech on the day of Pentecost, Peter made a declaration that was both powerful and controversial. He said in Acts 2:32, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.”
Peter called the resurrection of Jesus a fact. It would have been recognized by many witnesses that Jesus died on a cross, but not every one had seen Jesus alive. If the claim of Jesus’ resurrection had been nonsense, Jesus’ adversaries could have produced the body to indicate otherwise. However, the Bible records that the tomb was empty and the body was gone. Opponents of Jesus did not present the evidence of a body.
A rumor was circulating that the disciples stole the body. But if that were the case, would they really have become martyrs for a lie? Those followers of Jesus who claimed to see Jesus after He rose from the dead were willing to die for that claim, which is a powerful testimony of their conviction.
Here is another compelling claim of the resurrection: Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
The compelling claim of the early church leaders is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – First Timothy 6:18 talks about Jesus making the good confession before Pontius Pilate.
In accusing Jesus of blasphemy, the religious leaders handed Him over to Pontius Pilate. That is when Pilate questioned Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
This was Jesus’ testimony before Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Pilate said, “You are a king then!”
Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Pilate responded by asking, “What is truth?” And then he walked away from Jesus. The good confession of Jesus reveals Himself as a king who is not of this world and the source of truth to set the captives free from the lies of this world. In a world of many voices offering freedom, the most important voice to heed is Jesus Christ.
Christ’s good confession before Pilate is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – It happened the night before Jesus was crucified. He grabbed a basin and a towel. He knelt down to serve the disciples by washing their feet.
In this simple act, Jesus taught us that service is an act of humility. Jesus literally lowered Himself to serve the disciples as He washed their feet. If Jesus was willing to do that, then none of His servants are so great that they are above performing acts of service that can help others in practical ways.
Jesus said to His disciples in John 13:14, “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. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
The washing of the disciples’ feet is an example of service taught by Jesus and is a lesson of faith worth remembering.