JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on what happens in the Year of the Lord’s favor
Isaiah 61 contains words that would eventually be fulfilled by Jesus. The Spirit of the LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.
When Jesus came to earth, He fulfilled these words. This is where Jesus stopped when He read the scroll from Isaiah. During His earthly ministry, we learn that Jesus healed the sick, encouraged the brokenhearted, and preached the Gospel. He drew crowds with His miracles, and gained enemies by claiming to be God’s Anointed One. In the favor of the LORD, we find the light of hope, the source of healing, and the freedom of forgiveness.
The favor of the LORD is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on good and perfect gifts.
James 1:17 tells us that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
Here we see that God is the giver of all good gifts. Some of those gifts might be tangible things. First Timothy 6 tells us that God is the One who provides us with everything for our enjoyment. But this blessing comes with a caution for us not to put our hope in wealth, but rather to put our hope in God. Love the Giver more than the gift.
Some of the good gifts provided by God might be resources that we need to survive. Acts 14:17 says, “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” This, too is a blessing from God and a reason to give thanks.
Some of His gifts are perfect. Jesus is the perfect remedy for our sin. God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son. The Holy Spirit is the perfect power source for living the Christian life. Jesus said in Luke 11, “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
Every good and perfect gift from God is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK -Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the opportunities to join joyful occasions.
When you think of joyful occasions, what are some situations that come to your mind? It is likely that when a joyful occasion comes to our mind, that we will picture several people being there to enjoy the festivities.
Entering into someone else’s joy is expressing sincere friendship just like having the compassion to enter someone else’s pain. Romans 12:15 urges us to rejoice with those who rejoice.
In Luke 15, Jesus told three stories of something or someone who was lost and then was found. In each story, the person who found the object or person who had been lost, wanted someone to celebrate with. Who do they call? Friends, neighbors, and family members.
It’s the people closest to us with whom we want to celebrate. This is something to consider when we receive invitations to weddings, baptisms, award ceremonies, graduations, or anniversary celebrations. We may not always be able to attend every celebration, but receiving such an invitation means that someone wants us to join in their celebration, and we have an opportunity to express our joy in their joy.
The opportunity to join joyful occasions is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment of Celebration reflects on the compassionate expression of a sensitive heart.
Romans 12:15 urges us to mourn with those who mourn.
There is a wise saying that cautions us from singing songs to a heavy heart. When someone hears sobering news from the doctor, or is grieving the loss of a loved one, it is not just a typical day for them. God calls us to be compassionate and sensitive to others who find themselves in vulnerable places. God calls us to take the time to enter their world of pain, to walk with them, and be sympathetic in the midst of their tears. This show of support may look different in various situations. One person may need a listening ear. Another person may have practical needs where we can serve them. Another person might need a shoulder to cry on. The expression of compassion to a troubled soul takes our time, attention, and concern. In this way, we can represent Jesus in difficult places and offer hope and a godly perspective.
The compassionate expression of a sensitive heart is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the influence of a Christian mother.
The Apostle Paul wrote to a young pastor named Timothy by saying, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded now lives in you also.”
Here were some faithful women who were witnesses of the Gospel to their offspring. Timothy embraced the same faith of his mother, and that faith that lived in Timothy became stronger and bolder with the encouragement of Paul the Apostle, who was his mentor.
Proverbs 31:30 says that charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
The influence of a Christian mother is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the greatness of God.
These are the words of Psalm 145, starting at verse 3.
“Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.”
Here is one way we can apply this portion of Scripture into our lives today. Think of some great deed that God has done such as the creation of the world or His redemptive work of sending Jesus into the world. Then, tell someone about it, and what it means to us.
The Greatness of God is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the fruitful outcome of abiding in Christ.
Jesus said to His disciples in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
We are called to a relationship with Christ. Relationships flourish where there is love, faithfulness, honesty, and open communication. This is how our witness for Christ can thrive today. We know from the Bible that Jesus loves the people in the world; that He is faithful; that He is the truth; and that He speaks openly and freely about the will of God. On trial, Jesus said, “I have spoken openly to the world.” As we respond to His voice, we get to know Jesus more and more. We learn to love Him more and more. We are also transformed into the likeness of His character more and more. A faithful relationship to Jesus leads to a fruitful witness for Jesus in a world that desperately needs Jesus.
In John 15:8, Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
The fruitful outcome of abiding in Christ is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the united voice of God’s family.
In Romans 15:5 and 6, the Apostle Paul said to the church, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is the official verse for the National Day of Prayer observance tomorrow (Thursday, May 1st 2014). The official theme is “One Voice, United In Prayer.” Prayer is a significant and powerful opportunity for God’s people to come together and acknowledge our nation’s need for God’s grace. Prayer brings God’s people closer together.
According to the National Day of Prayer website, millions of people will gather to pray at thousands of events facilitated by volunteer coordinators. As we come together, we will take our concerns for this nation to God’s throne of grace. According to Second Chronicles 7:14, when God’s people get serious about prayer with personal humility and repentance, God responds with His healing hand on that nation.
The united voice of God’s family is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on God’s pleasure in the person who has faith.
There is a theme woven throughout Hebrews 11, when describing the way of life of various Old Testament characters.
That theme is faith.
Hebrews 11:5 says, “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.”
One of the ways that the book of Genesis describes Enoch’s relationship with God is that he walked with God. That is a good picture of faith; walking in step with God, and being close enough to hear His voice.
According to Romans 10:17, “faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”
When God takes pleasure in our faith, that is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on God’s pleasure when our faith is expressed in love.
Hebrews 13:16 offers this reminder: “Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices, God is pleased.”
Doing good may involve a wide range of services including: mowing an elderly couple’s lawn, visiting a friend in the hospital, or taking some food to the new neighbor who just moved in next door. There are various ways to express God’s love with acts of kindness.
The Bible acknowledges that when we do good deeds, and share our resources with others, there will be personal sacrifice. It may involve a sacrifice of time or money, or energy that we decided to spend for the well-being of someone else instead of ourselves. God takes notice of our activities that involve personal sacrifice.
Hebrews 6:10 says, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”
When God is pleased by our faith expressed in love, that is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the comeback of Jesus.
Two men were walking along the road to Emmaus wearing somber faces. They had hoped that Jesus would be their redeemer, but after the events of the past few days, their hopes had faded to disappointment. Suddenly, Jesus showed up and started walking and talking with them. After they recognized Jesus later, their spirits were lifted, and they went to tell His disciples, “It is true! The Lord has risen.”
Suppose you were watching a sporting event with a friend who cheered on the same team, and you turned off the TV because your team fell so far behind. Then, imagine finding out the next day that your team scored a stunning come-back victory. You would probably text your friend to share the good news.
Jesus made the greatest comeback of all time when He rose from the dead. It looked bleak on Friday, when Christ was nailed to a cross, and the disciples were scattered and distressed. It looked like the enemies of Christ had prevailed, but Jesus would not stay silent in the tomb. He came back from death, and emerged victorious over death and sin. His triumph renews our hope every day and fills us with so much joy that we want to tell others about the greatest comeback in history.
The comeback of Jesus from the grave is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.