JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the gift of God’s love.
John 3:16 is one of the most quoted verses of the Bible. It’s a fitting verse for the Christmas season and the Easter season. It’s a fitting verse to describe how someone can be born again into the family of God.
“For 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.”
Here we see God’s love freely given to us as a gift through Jesus Christ. For a gift to be a gift, there needs to be a giver and a receiver. God clearly gave. That gift is ours to receive. This is why the Christmas season is so special among those who receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. We recognize that without the treasure of God’s grace, we would be lost in our sin and without God because sin separates us from God. But when Jesus enters our world, His light invades the darkness of our soul. Despair is replaced with hope. Doubt and fear are replaced with faith. Selfishness is replaced by love. In Jesus, we find the freedom to experience abundant and eternal life with Him. God invites us to say “Yes” to His invitation to live with Him forever.
The gift of God’s love through Jesus Christ is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – One of the benefits of living in this moment of human history is that we can look back at the Bible characters of the past who were faithful to the Lord and be motivated by their witness. This week, we examine some of faith’s heroes in Hebrews 11.
Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the faith of Abraham.
Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
It was the voice of the LORD that was calling Abraham out of his comfort zone to unknown territory. One of the reassuring promises that God gave Abraham was, “I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” God delivered on His promises to Abraham.
Faith does not normally see the big picture of God’s plans, but is willing to trust God step by step, because we believe that moving forward into the unknown with God is better than staying in our comfort zone without Him.
When someone obeys God’s calling, that 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 power of the Gospel to change us.
In reality, the good news of Jesus Christ changes lives in many ways. Four changes are found in Romans 1:16 and 17. The Apostle Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last; just as it is written, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’
One of the ways the gospel changes us is by saving our soul. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A second way that the gospel changes us is by making us right with God. Christians are not perfect, but we are forgiven and restored.
A third way the gospel changes us is by giving us a valuable advocate. Jesus has proven through the cross and empty grave that He is our worthy Savior, mighty God, and a faithful friend to the end.
A fourth way that the gospel changes us is by giving us enthusiasm to live the Christian life and publicly proclaim Jesus as Lord.
The power of the Gospel to change us is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today, WJTL remembers the perseverance of Job.
James 5:11 says, “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”
The story of Job is one of human tragedy and godly triumph. Here was a man who lost practically everything. Yet, he did not give up on God even though he suffered much pain without knowing why he was going down this road of human suffering.
One of his statements gives us insight into what God can do through our moments of hardship. Job said, “He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
Just as God took Job’s faith through the refinement process in the midst of his troubles, He can also use trials to purify us. First Peter 1:6 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
The perseverance of Job is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – Goliath was the bully of the Old Testament, ridiculing the army of Israel, challenging someone to step forward to fight him man to man. He was an imposing figure, a champion fighter, who was over 9 feet tall. Every one was intimidated by him, except David.
When David approached Goliath, he said, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” David was making the point that it is the LORD who saves, not someone’s physical weapons. This battle was the LORD’s and the LORD enabled David to strike the giant down.
The Bible says that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. God has provided us with help to fight the good fight of faith, such as the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, and others. You can find the complete list in Ephesians 6. Using God’s weapons of righteousness, we can overcome the giants that threaten and intimidate us.
David and Goliath is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”
Through the expression and reception of God’s Word, faith is formed in our hearts. Not everyone who hears with their ears will believe with their hearts. However, if our hearts are thirsty for the truth, and craving for righteousness, the words of Jesus are sure to be a satisfying drink for spiritual nourishment.
Isaiah chapter 55 compared the acceptance of God’s Word to the rain cycle, which comes from heaven and does not return without watering the earth. The LORD says in verse 11, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Faith is born and thrives with the influence of God’s Word shaping our heart.
The life-changing impact of God’s Word is a lesson of faith to remember.
JOHN SHIRK – from Matthew 14:27.
In the midst of stormy waters, the disciples had seen Jesus walking on water. Jesus immediately said to them, “Take courage! It is I. don’t be afraid.” Peter replied, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.
Jesus said, “Come.”
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me.” Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.
As long as Peter was walking toward Jesus, he was able to do something extraordinary. He was walking on water. He did not begin to sink until he took notice of the storm, and became gripped with fear. This has application for our lives. Fear keeps us from accomplishing the extraordinary things that God is calling us to do. Fear of the future, fear of public speaking, and fear of failure can paralyze us from drawing closer to Jesus. Faith in Jesus keeps us moving forward and rising above adversity. In the midst of our failures, we can call on Jesus for the strength to save us. His arm is long enough and His grip is strong enough to rescue us.
Faith focused on Jesus is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Luke 9:20.
Jesus was having a conversation with His disciples. He asked them what other people were saying about His identity. Different names were brought up in response to His question. Some were saying that Jesus is John the Baptist. Others were saying Elijah. And still others were saying that Jesus was one of the prophets of long ago come back to life.
Then Jesus asked, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
Peter was acknowledging Jesus as being sent by God to be the Savior of the world. What we believe about Jesus will affect the vital areas of our lives, including our eternal salvation, our influence in the world, and our sense of purpose for living life. What we believe about Jesus will affect how we treat other people. We will heed carefully the “one another” commands of the Bible. Love one another. Encourage one another. Be kind and compassionate to one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Peter was blessed for recognizing Jesus as the Messiah. So will we. First John 4:15 says “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God.”
Acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From John 8:24-
Jesus had some tough words for the Pharisees. He said, “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”
Jesus is giving both a warning to the Pharisees and an opportunity to change their mind about Him. In John 5:18, we learn that in calling God His own Father, He was making Himself equal with God. Denying the claims of Jesus as the Son of God to the very end leads us to a bitter end. But it does not have to end that way. The coming of Jesus to the world means that through faith in His name, we don’t have to die in our sins, but rather in His grace.
There is a Savior. His name is Jesus. And His death on the cross means forgiveness to all who call on Him to save us from our sins.
His resurrection means victory and eternal life. Our hope remains firm because Jesus is alive and well.
Faith in the name of Jesus is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.