JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Connection, today’s Encounter with Jesus examines His presence as the central focus of our lives.
In Mark 3:32, Jesus was the center of attention, when his family members came to take charge of him. At that time, they thought that Jesus was out of his mind.
There was a crowd sitting around him, and they told Jesus, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
Jesus used this opportunity to identify the members of His spiritual family. He looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
What was happening there in the physical sense is where His church is blessed in the spiritual sense-We gather together with Jesus as the central focus of our faith, revolving around His agenda for our lives rather than the other way around.
A daily connection with Christ will lead us to a Christ-centered life.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on a life directed by God.
One of the questions that graduates face is “what will I do with the rest of my life?” This is a significant question. The answer may depend on another question. “Who will lead us?”
Proverbs 3:5 and 6 are key passages that reveal how our lives can be directed by the wisdom of God’s plan.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.” The next verse is also important for having a mindset that is ready to respond to the counsel of God.
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.”
For moral decisions, there is clarity available in the commandments of God.
For career decisions, there is guidance available in the hand of God.
For decisions that build relationships, there is help available in the love of God.
Having our paths directed by God is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – From Mark 1:35.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
As we look at the life of Christ, we see His consistent devotion to the Father. He prayed regularly. Luke 5:16 tells us that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray. Consistent prayer is an opportunity that God has provided for us to pour out the concerns of our heart, praise Him for His attributes, intercede on behalf of others, and confess our sins to Him.
Prayer keeps the communication lines open with God, where we not only speak to Him, but He also speaks to us through the counsel of His Word. As we commit our lives to Him with a trusting heart, He directs our path.
As Jesus was praying in a solitary place, Simon and his companions went to look for him. When they found him, they exclaimed, “everyone is looking for you.” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else.” He was not driven by man’s agenda, but rather the will of His Father. After spending time with the Father, He was in tune with the Father’s plans for his day ahead.
Consistent prayer in a quiet place is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – from Ephesians 5:16 and 17.
“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.”
God has a purpose for our lives. He made us so that we might enjoy fellowship with Him and make Him known to others.
How can we discern where the Lord is leading us? There are various factors that help us to understand God’s will for our lives.
God’s will is consistent with His Word. So, we can be confident that God would not lead us to live in such a way that contradicts the principles found in His Word. As we commit ourselves to God, He increasingly gives us clarity on what to do.
God’s will is also revealed through opportunities. The talents He gives us, along with our passions can become a platform for us to glorify God. Awareness of people’s needs provides opportunities to make a difference for them. The burdens that He gives us stir us to speak out and take a stand for Biblical virtues. Proverbs 3:6 tells us that as we acknowledge the LORD in all our ways, He will direct our paths. He will clear the way for us to do His will.
Making the most of God’s opportunities is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Isaiah 53:10.
Speaking of Jesus, “Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.”
The death of Jesus at the cross was the will of the LORD. His suffering was for a purpose. That purpose is revealed in verse 5 of the same chapter. “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
The reasons for our suffering in this life may not always be clearly understood, but through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we see that suffering within God’s plan is never wasted. Jesus said we would have trouble, but He also said, “take heart, I have overcome the world.” Through Jesus, we have grace to overcome the trials of this life.
Living with hope through adversity is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.