JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Connection, today’s Encounter with Jesus examines the life-changing impact of His grace.
This is evident in the life of the Apostle Paul, whose conversion to Christ stirred the early church to praise God.
Reflecting on those early days as a follower of Christ, Paul said in Galatians 1:22, “I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy. And they praised God because of me.”
At one time, Paul brought harm to the church. After conversion, he would be an instrument to help the church.
At one time, Paul sought to destroy the church. After conversion, he would be an instrument to build the church.
At one time, Paul held hatred in his heart for Christians. After conversion, he would be filled with love for the followers of Jesus.
A daily connection with Christ motivates us to bless God’s people and build up His church.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Corinthians 12:21-23.
The church is compared to a body, with various functions of the body working together for a common purpose. Trouble begins when we start making comparisons with other parts of the body. If we respond with superior thoughts that we are more important than other parts, the unity breaks down. The Apostle Paul wanted to stop that from happening. This is what he said:
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.”
When you think of the people in the body of Christ that you serve beside, who comes to mind? They have an important part of helping you to serve effectively. One way we can build that part of the body of Christ is by recognizing their contribution and showing our appreciation for what they do.
Recognizing the contributions of others is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Corinthians 12:14-16.
The church is compared to a body, with Christ at the Head, and the other members of the body serving in different capacities.
“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.”
The Bible emphasizes the importance of every part of the body to contribute to the work of the church. Maybe we are not gifted to offer hospitality by cooking a meal, but we might have a friendly personality who can greet someone at the door of the church. We might not be able to preach like the pastor, but we might have opportunities to share God’s love with a friend next door. This passage cautions us from making comparisons with others that leave us feeling inferior. Our role may be different, but it is also an important contribution to the body of Christ. The important thing is that we are thankful for how God has gifted us and use that gift for the glory of His name.
Recognizing the significance of our spiritual gift is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
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 purpose of accountable relationships.
In seeking accountable relationships, we are enlisting the support of another to help us stay true to our commitments. In the context of faith, this relates to our commitment to following Christ.
Chip Ingram says there are a number of reasons why we need accountable relationships. We have the tendency to underestimate the power of our sinful passions. We have the tendency to overestimate our ability to handle temptation. And we have the tendency to believe that our struggles and temptations are unique.
One of God’s resources for helping us in temptation is the body of Christ. Discernment is important when establishing accountable relationships. It should be with a trusted friend who loves the Lord, and who is genuinely interested in seeing us grow in God’s grace.
Hebrews 3:12 supports accountable relationships with these words: “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
An Accountable relationship is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – From First Corinthians 12:20.
Speaking of the church, “As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
The picture of the church is compared to the human body, where the parts are connected and working together to contribute to a healthy body. This statement comes between two interesting points made by the Apostle Paul.
The first point stresses the importance of each body part to someone who might feel inferior to others. “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’ it would not cease to be part of the body.” Each part matters and has an important role to fulfill. No part is so insignificant that it does not have something to contribute.
The second point also stresses the importance of each body part; this time, to someone who may feel superior to others. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’” No part is so important that it does not need the support or help of others.
The purpose of service in the church is for the common good of the church and to lift up Jesus as Lord to a watching world.
Expression of spiritual gifts in the church is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SUMMERVILLE, TWR – GUEST BLOGGER. Stop reading this blog for just a moment, and in your mind, count how many bibles are in your house. If your home is like mine, it’s hard to count how many our family has. We have multiple copies of the NIV, NKJV, KJV, NLT, Message, and ESV.
Now count how many commentaries and other resources you have on your shelves. Too many to count? Me too.
Now count how many radios in your house. Don’t forget to count the radios in your cars.
What’s the point?
We are blessed. The Lord has given us tremendous resources.
WJTL and TWR are joining hands to give these same resources to house church pastors and lay leaders in China who live in the rural parts of China. Many of them are leading congregations and they desperately need these resources. These leaders need a study bible with notes, maps and references. They need a radio to tune into solid bible teaching. And they need books that correspond to these great radio programs.
You can share these resources with our brothers and sisters in Christ in China when you give a gift to the WJTL campaign. Be part of something big. https://www.twr.org/campaign/rck-wjtl2010
John Summerville is the Director of Radio Station Partnerships.
TWR broadcasts Jesus in 220 languages utilizing AM, FM, shortwave and the Internet.
JOHN SUMMERVILLE, TWR – GUEST BLOGGER. Imagine someone getting ready for bed and casually turning on his radio to keep him company and hearing about Jesus for the very first time. That person is so intrigued that he begins listening every night. Soon he accepts Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. The excitement bubbles inside of him and he begins to tell his friends to listen too. In just a little while three of his friends are listening, and in the morning when they see each other they discuss what they’ve heard.
The “buzz” about this little radio group continues to grow and their numbers increase from four to six. Then it grows again to 10 and the group decides that they need a bible and should start a formal study group.
Now when the group gets to be 12 members with others asking if they can join, someone in the group suggests that they ought to start a church. They choose one person to lead this effort. They choose one person to be their pastor.
They choose you.
But the only thing you know about the bible is what you’ve heard on the radio. And you only began listening to it because your friend asked you to just 3 months ago.
Imagine how important it would be for you to receive TWR’s China Radio Church Kit! How valuable would the hard back study bible with its notes, references, and maps be to you and your ability to share spiritual truths with your new congregation of enthusiastic believers? How crucial would the text books that correspond with the programs heard over TWR become in giving you solid theology and answers to so many of their questions?
Now imagine someone handing you those resources. The smile on her face reassures you that despite being unprepared as a pastor, she is part of God’s answer in supplying you with everything you need to lead your congregation.
Let’s change the scenario. Suppose you are that someone who is able to hand valuable teaching resources to a house church pastor? Your smile reassures that new pastor that you are giving him these materials for his spiritual growth and you are one of many who are standing behind him in prayer. Be a part of something big. Support WJTL’s effort to equip Chinese House Church Pastors with a gift today. https://www.twr.org/campaign/rck-wjtl2010
John Summerville is the Director of Radio Station Partnerships. TWR broadcasts Jesus in 220 languages utilizing AM, FM, shortwave and the Internet.