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.
JOHN SHIRK – As Jesus entered the holy city on a donkey, a very large crowd was there to spread cloaks on the road. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds were shouting, “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
Hosanna is a word that means “save.” This word was a cry of the Old Testament. Psalm 118:25 says, “O LORD, save us.” In Jesus, the prayer for salvation becomes a declaration of praise. “Salvation belongs to our God.” Jesus rode into Jerusalem with shouts of joy from a welcoming crowd.
In a matter of days, the cry on the streets would not be for Jesus to save them, but for Pontius Pilate to crucify Jesus. What Jesus’ opponents did not know was that by going to the cross, Jesus was fulfilling God’s purpose of saving His people from their sins. Our plea for salvation becomes an answer to prayer through Jesus Christ.
The shout of Hosanna is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – Adam and Eve were free to eat the fruit of any tree except from the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil.
But Satan tried to portray God as a naysayer when he approached Eve. He said, “Did God really say, ‘you must not eat from any tree in the garden?’
Eve corrected him, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”
Satan’s next tactic was to portray God as a rival. He said, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” With these words, he persuaded Eve to disobey God and take a bite.
Sin is the great tragedy of humanity. Paradise was lost through sin. The good news is that paradise is restored through Jesus Christ.
Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Salvation through Jesus Christ overcomes the tragedy of sin and is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
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.
JOHN SHIRK – From Revelation 7:17.
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
This is the picture of the relief that awaits those who were cleansed by the blood of Jesus and have come out of the great tribulation on the earth.
Jesus was described by John the Baptist as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. In heaven, the Lamb is also the Shepherd. Those who look to Him with a trusting heart are cleansed of their sin. As we follow Jesus, we can depend on Him to lead us to a place of righteousness, joy in His holy Presence, relief from pain and suffering, and eternal life.
In Heaven, Jesus is the central focus. We can prepare for heaven now by putting Jesus as the center of our attention and devotion today.
A life centered on Christ is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.