JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Jonah 3:8 through 10.
After Jonah preached to the huge city of Nineveh, the people responded with prayer and repentance.
The king and his nobles said, “Let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”
Whenever we give up sinful practices and turn toward God, we make a decision for life. In the case of Nineveh, one of the specific sins that they committed to give up was violence. Along with violence in a society, there is the presence of hatred for others, selfish ambition, envy, inconsideration for people and general disrespect for human life. Turning to God closes the door on these destructive attitudes and opens the door for His love to take root in our heart. This leads to a change of attitude that seeks to do good for our neighbors. Nineveh was a civilization that made a choice for life in the nick of time.
Prayer and Repentance are vital relationship-building principles to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment of Celebration reflects on the power of God to save us and be our source of strength.
In Isaiah 30:15, this is what the Sovereign LORD says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength.”
Repentance is a turning point that acknowledges we have been going the wrong way and turn to Jesus for forgiveness and direction to follow His way.
Rest is a reliance on God’s grace to save us. We acknowledge that no amount of good deeds could ever outweigh our bad deeds to make us right with God. We do not have the ability to climb ourselves out of our debt of sin. But because of what Jesus did for us at the cross, we believe that He paid the price of our debt. And so, we depend on Jesus.
Quietness is a place of solitude at God’s throne of grace, convincing us that God is in control.
Trust is a place of confidence in the LORD even in times of trouble.
The power of God to save us and be our source of strength is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK-One of the foundational teachings of the Christian faith is the moral depravity of humanity. Apart from Christ’s influence, we are lost in sinful and selfish ways. Sin is at the heart of our problem.
Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
The heart is so deceptive that it is possible for us to deceive ourselves into thinking we are in a better condition than we really are.
The good news about Jesus is that He is our remedy of hope. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. We can be set free from guilt and experience forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus for us on the cross. What is incurable for man is possible with God.
Jesus says in Luke 5:31, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” For the sickness of our sin, there is a cure, and his name is Jesus.
The heart of our problem and our remedy of hope is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – There are times when Jesus shook things up to challenge the conventional thought of his day. One of those statements was when he pronounced “woe to those who laugh now”, while pronouncing a blessing on those “who weep now.”
This was not to suggest that there was something inherently wrong with laughter, but there are some types of laughter to guard against. Laughter from obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking are out of place for God’s people, according to Ephesians 5. Another kind of laughter to guard against is scoffing or making fun of something that God considers virtuous and true.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” He was talking to His followers when He said this. Just before His death, Jesus told His disciples that their tears of grief would be turned into a reunion of joy after He rose from the dead. Another kind of mourning that happens is when we demonstrate sorrow over our sin to the degree that it leads to repentance. James 4:9 is a message to sinners to “grieve, mourn, and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the LORD, and he will lift you up.”
The blessing of mourning is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – In Luke 5:31, Jesus responded to a question as to why He was eating with sinners. His response was this: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Jesus is especially good at heart surgery. This is where the seat of ambition and desire is found. Jeremiah 17 describes the heart as “deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” This is our condition without the transforming effect of God’s grace on our hearts. The words of Jesus pierce the skin and serve as a cleansing agent for our corrupted heart. His grace changes us to follow after His heart rather than trusting our own heart. His desire becomes our desire. His passion becomes our passion.
So, why did Jesus relate with sinners? He came to heal hearts that were broken, sick, and deceitful. Ezekiel 18:31 says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
The influence of Jesus as our Great Physician is a lesson of faith worth remembering.