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’s Moment of Celebration reflects on the blessing of a new day.
Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Each day is a gift of God, and provides an opportunity for us to give thanks to God for the life we have in a particular day. While there are reasons to celebrate the opportunities of this day and every day, this passage is referring to a new thing that God was doing to bring hope to the world. Jesus would appear to the world and offer the gift of eternal life to those who would receive Him.
The surrounding verses are applied to Jesus in the New Testament.
Verse 22 talks about the stone that the builders rejected, which has become the capstone. This refers to Jesus in the New Testament.
Verse 23 says that the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Jesus came on a divine mission to express God’s love.
Verse 25 says, “O LORD, save us, O LORD, grant us success.” Jesus is our answer to this prayer from an earnest heart.
A light has dawned, bringing new life and fresh hope for a bright future. His name is Jesus.
The blessing of a new day is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment of Celebration reflects on God’s good purpose for His people.
Romans 8:28 tells us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This does not mean that everything that happens to us is good. But God has the power to overcome evil with good. This is proven through the power of the cross, where Jesus died for the sins of many people.
So, through the trials of our lives and through the triumphs, God is weaving everything together for a good purpose, and that purpose is identified in the next verse-Romans 8:29.
“For those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” That is how we are blessed and God is honored through the circumstances of our lives.
God’s good purpose to transform us to be more like Jesus is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Jesus would be born as God’s gift to us.
This promise appears in Isaiah 9:6-“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince Of Peace.”
Jesus is the expression of God’s grace. He is not a trophy to earn, but a gift to receive. Over and over in the Bible, we are told that God’s grace is a gift to receive and is necessary for eternal life.
Ephesians 2:8 and 9 says, “It is by grace you have been saved through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.”
And Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This Christmas, there is not a more complete package with greater, long-lasting value than to receive the gift of God’s grace in the person of Jesus Christ.
The promise that Jesus would be born as God’s gift to us is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – In Micah 5:2, we read about the birthplace of God’s anointed leader:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
The name “Bethlehem” is significant because it means “House of Bread.” Jesus identified Himself as the bread of life. So, entering the world stage as a baby in the manger, Jesus came to the House of Bread, as the Bread of Life.
His birth in Bethlehem was planned long before it really happened. The location of Christ’s birthplace is sending the signal to the world that just as bread satisfies physical hunger, so Jesus is our vital source for satisfaction for spiritual hunger.
And just as Jesus came to Bethlehem, which was considered small and insignificant, so He approaches people who are humble, and raises them up for extraordinary purposes.
The promise that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – Today, WJTL remembers the identity of Jesus as the light of the world.
In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
With our focus of faith on Jesus, we have moral clarity with a better understanding of how God wants us to live.
With our focus of faith on Jesus, we have Kingdom clarity with a better understanding of what God wants us to treasure.
And with our focus of faith on Jesus, we have directional clarity with a better understanding of where God wants us to go.
Jesus invites us to follow Him and to see the world in the light of His grace and truth. He offers abundant and eternal life to those who say “Yes” to His invitation.
The identity of Jesus as the light of the world is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – In Christ, we see a perfect record of obedience to the Father’s will. He said in John 14:31, “I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” He became the unblemished sacrifice for our sins. Even though He never sinned, He paid the penalty of our sins at the cross. Speaking of Jesus, Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
How does that happen? How can we be made righteous in the eyes of God when our track record shows a history of moral failures? The Bible says that ‘the righteous will live by faith.’ When we trust in the name of Jesus for salvation, God no longer holds our sin against us. We are forgiven and set free from the death sentence that our sins deserve. The sinless life of Christ made Him a worthy sacrifice for our sins. His death and resurrection has made Him the worthy Savior to be praised.
Jesus is in a separate category from every human being who walked on the face of the earth. Because of His sinless record and obedience to death on a cross, God has exalted him to the highest place and has given Him the name that is above every name.
The sinless life of Christ is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – Philippians 2:6 tells us that “being in very nature God, he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!”
Jesus deserved the crown of glory. Instead, He wore the crown of thorns.
Jesus was worthy of being lifted up to a throne of honor. Instead, He suffered the cross of shame.
Jesus was worthy of being served as a distinguished leader. Instead, He came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.
There is an important reason to examine the attitude of Christ. Philippians 2:5 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
The attitude of Jesus is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – In First Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul talked about our situation if Christ did not rise from the dead. He said in verse 14, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
He said, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ we are to be pitied more than all men.”
Paul was living with an eternal perspective. He assures us that Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, and because of His resurrection, those who are in Christ will be made alive.
Jesus told His followers, “Because I live, you also will live.” Because Jesus lives, our failures are not fatal, our faith is not futile, and death is not final. Our labor has purpose, our soul is secure, and our future is forever in the grace of God. This is our hope when our faith is in Christ to save us from our sins.
The hope of the resurrection is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – First Timothy 6:18 talks about Jesus making the good confession before Pontius Pilate.
In accusing Jesus of blasphemy, the religious leaders handed Him over to Pontius Pilate. That is when Pilate questioned Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
This was Jesus’ testimony before Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Pilate said, “You are a king then!”
Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Pilate responded by asking, “What is truth?” And then he walked away from Jesus. The good confession of Jesus reveals Himself as a king who is not of this world and the source of truth to set the captives free from the lies of this world. In a world of many voices offering freedom, the most important voice to heed is Jesus Christ.
Christ’s good confession before Pilate is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – On the week leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, He spent some time in Jerusalem. He entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.’”
The temple was designed to be a place of worship, but by the time Jesus stepped onto the scene, it became a place where some people took advantage of others financially. Jesus took action to cleanse the temple to rid the temple area of this practice. Jesus had zeal for God’s house to be a place of pure devotion and worship.
This scene becomes more personal when we realize what the Bible says about the body of the believer. First Corinthians 6:19 tells us that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Where there is corruption within, Jesus will take action to cleanse the temple, so that our bodies will be houses of worship, purely devoted to Christ.
The cleansing of the temple is a lesson of faith worth remembering.