JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the forward progress of the Christian journey.
In Philippians 3:13 and 14, the Apostle Paul wrote, “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Before knowing Christ, Paul was hostile to anyone who identified with Jesus, and sought to destroy the church with his religious zeal. However, the road to Damascus became a defining moment in his life when he would begin the journey of walking with Christ as a faithful follower. If anyone had a reason to feel guilt and regret, Paul was the man. He was there to approve the death of Stephen, the first martyr in the early church.
But Paul’s days were filled with the awareness of God’s grace, and that changed his perspective about the past and the future. He was spending his time moving forward with Christ, not looking back with past regrets or failures. Neither did he look back with fondness to his former way of life. A relationship with Jesus puts us on the path of faith that leads to a greater love, holiness, and eternal life in heaven with Him.
The forward progress of the Christian journey is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on words of blessing.
In Numbers 6:24, the LORD told Moses to tell Aaron and his sons how to bless the Israelites. This has become known as the priestly blessing:
“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
As we see in the New Testament, First Peter 2:9 talks about followers of Jesus being a royal priesthood. We are ministers of the Gospel. We can be used of God to speak blessing on our families, our churches, and our nation. Ultimately, we are not the source of blessing. God is. That is why our blessing for others comes in the form of a prayer. We pray for the LORD to bless them and to keep them in His love. We pray for the LORD to grant them His favor with grace and peace.
This is something we can do for the well-being of our loved ones daily-by praying God’s blessing on them and looking for ways to bless them through our words and actions.
The words of blessing are reasons to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK -Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the opportunity of today.
It has been said that today is a gift, so maybe that is why it is called the present. We have been given this moment to seize the opportunities that God has for us.
Second Corinthians 6:2 says that “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” God is giving us this moment to embrace the grace that is offered to us through Jesus Christ. The experience of salvation involves a relationship with God where we know Him personally, forgiveness from God, and eternal life with God in heaven.
Another opportunity that we have today is to follow God’s will. Ephesians 5:15 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
Yet another opportunity of today is to celebrate the life that God has given us. This is what Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
The opportunities of today are reasons to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on news that is too good to contain.
In the book of Second Kings, four men in Samaria had leprosy. A great famine had overtaken their city due to a long siege by a strong army. Instead of staying at the city gate to die, the men decided to go over to the enemy camp to surrender, in the hope that they would live. But when they got there, no one was at the camp. The army had fled their tents, but left behind food, clothing, and money.
The men with leprosy ate and drank and carried off the silver, gold, and clothing and buried them as hidden treasure. Then they came back for more. Eventually, they said to each other, “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves.” They decided to report their findings to the royal palace.
There is a spiritual thirst and hunger in the land today. The Good News of Jesus is what this world needs. Would it be right for beggars who have been blessed by this abundant treasure to keep it for themselves? Telling others this good news is much like a beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. There is no shortage of supply, because God’s love is abundant and eternal.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK-Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the Kingdom of God.
Jesus said this was to be our primary focus. Earthly kingdoms rise and fall, and material possessions come and go, but the Kingdom of God is coming and will remain forever.
When 9/11 happened in 2001, our sense of security was shaken. 13 years later, the threat remains. We do not know what tomorrow may hold. Jesus never said we would find ultimate security in a strong military force, or in our money, or in the plans we make tomorrow. But we can find security in the strong arms of a loving God.
The kingdom of God is a present reality through followers of Jesus who represent Him. Romans 14:17 says, “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
And the kingdom of God is a future reality that will reveal the glory of Jesus to the whole earth at His coming. Hebrews 12:28 says, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so, worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” Those who seek His Kingdom will find true security for the soul. Jesus will be the central focus of our faith.
Receiving the kingdom of God is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the salvation that is drawing nearer.
When someone comes to faith in Christ, there are changes that occur within us. We become a new creation in Christ. He becomes our source of trust and confidence. We are blessed with peace in knowing that our sins are forgiven, and are brought into God’s family of believers. These are welcome changes to the new believer.
However, this world is not all there is. The best is yet to come. This anticipation keeps hope alive and purifies our faith as we draw closer to our ultimate destiny with Christ.
Romans 13:11 says, “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness, and put on the armor of light.”
With each step of faith, we are honoring God’s name and moving toward the goal for which Christ Jesus has called us heavenward.
The salvation of the Lord is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the praise that flows from a redeemed life
Here is one person’s testimony. The Apostle Paul wrote in First Timothy 1:15: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason, I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Paul is saying in essence, that if Jesus can save him, he can save anybody no matter how deep their depravity has taken them. When Jesus saves us from our sins, He fills our heart with thanksgiving and praise. We realize the dark destiny He rescued us from and the hopeful future He is leading us to experience. His mercy is marvelous in our eyes, and it has changed us from the inside out. Now we have been set free to bring glory to God with the activity of our lives.
The praise that flows from a redeemed life is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the joy of working together for a sacred purpose.
The church is compared to a body, which consists of many connected members who have different functions. Yet as their different functions work compatibly with each other, the body works according to its design.
Each part is significant enough to be a vital part of the team. No part is so important that it does not need the contribution of the other parts. God calls us to appreciate the contributions of others and to do our part in building the strength of the church for God’s glory.
Romans 12:6 says, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”
The joy of working together for a sacred purpose is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the holiness of God.
The angels make this declaration in Isaiah 6, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty. The whole earth is full of his glory.” It was the kind of statement that caused Isaiah to feel doomed as a sinner. Yet, God’s holiness was accompanied by His compassion, and that makes all the difference for anyone who has sinned against God. Instead of being condemned as a sinner, he would be called into service as a saint. The holiness of God had a purifying impact on Isaiah, and it has a purifying impact on those who belong to Jesus.
The holiness of God refers to His absolute moral purity. There is no sin in Him. His glory shines with brilliance. God’s holiness also refers to His greatness. He is a cut above the rest. No persons or idols match the worth of God to the human soul.
One of God’s purposes for our lives is to make us holy, not in the sense that we are able to attain to His level of greatness, but in the sense of purifying our faith by the Word of God. His holiness becomes an incentive for us to grow in holiness. First Peter 1:15 and 16 says, “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written, “be holy, because I am holy.” Heaven celebrates the supreme holiness of God constantly.
The holiness of God is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the graciousness of God.
Grace is that quality of God’s character that ultimately saves us from our sins and gives us eternal life. It is not an item we can purchase or a wage that we can earn. Ephesians 2:8 describes God’s grace as a gift to be received. In His grace, God shines His favor on His people.
The graciousness of God can be seen in the blessings that He pours out on the inhabitants of the earth. He sends rain from heaven to provide us with food from the crops.
His graciousness is often connected with His patience and kindness.
Instead of wiping out the civilization of Nineveh, as He had threatened through Jonah the prophet, the LORD saw how they had turned from their evil ways and had compassion on them. Likewise, God’s graciousness relents from the judgment that we deserve when we repent from our sins and trust in Jesus for forgiveness
God’s graciousness also equips the believer with spiritual gifts. He blesses us to be a blessing to others through acts of service. First Peter 4:10 tells us to use whatever gift we have received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
The graciousness of God is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.