JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is tithing, and what does the Bible say about it?”
Tithing is introduced in the Old Testament where the Israelites were instructed to bring ten percent of their income to the Lord in offerings.
In Malachi 3, the LORD compared failure to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse as an act of robbing Him. Jesus confirmed the value of tithing in Matthew 23, verse 23, but noted that there were more important matters of the law such as justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Jesus rebuked the teachers of the law for neglecting these more important matters of the law.
This is a good focus for us today, not to neglect the practice of tithing, but also to remember that there is more to following Christ than giving our ten percent.
The emphasis in the New Testament goes beyond numbers to the condition of the heart. Second Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
In this way, our tithes and generous gifts for the sake of God’s kingdom become fragrant offerings to God in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the Garden of Gethsemane.
This garden is located on the lower slope of the Mount of Olives and is the place where Jesus took His disciples just before he was arrested. This is a place that tourists can visit today.
The Garden of Gethsemane was a place where Jesus prayed earnestly in great anguish and entrusted Himself to the Father’s plan.
To get a sense of the deep burden that Jesus was carrying, Jesus said to three of His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
The Garden of Gethsemane reminds us that our greatest spiritual battles are won when we are on our knees, in fellowship with God, entrusting ourselves to His redemptive purposes in our lives.
The Garden of Gethsemane is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “How does God comfort the downcast?”
One way God comforts us in our sadness is that He gives us the hope of heaven, which reminds us that God has more joy to offer us than the world. Heaven is a future reality for anyone who follows Jesus.
God also provides comfort for the downcast in the present through the encouragement of His believers. An example of this is found in Second Corinthians 7:6, where the Apostle Paul says, “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” Through the arrival of Titus, Paul learned of the church’s ardent concern for him and their genuine sorrow about a situation in Corinth. Having a good relationship with the Corinthian church mattered to Paul. The report from Titus greatly encouraged him.
Look for ways that God can work through you to encourage someone who is downcast in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the clothing that we wear.
Clothing was introduced after sin entered the human race. It happened in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve felt shame after disobeying God. They tried to hide from God and wore fig leaves.
In Genesis 3:21, God made garments of skin for Adam and Eve, which would be a more adequate covering for them.
From our own resources, we are unable to provide an adequate covering for our sins. What we lack, God is able to provide. He offered the complete remedy through the sacrifice of Jesus.
Hiding from God is not the answer to our shame. Confession and forgiveness is the path to healing. First John 1:7 says, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
His garments of righteousness not only cover our shame, but also display character qualities of the faith such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love.
The clothing that we wear and the garments of righteousness are reasons to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What can we learn from the Bereans?”
There is a brief description of this group of people as Paul and Silas arrived in Berea. According to Acts 17:11, “the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.”
The Bereans would have been hungry for God’s Word, and as they examined the Scriptures daily, God’s Word was getting into them. They were serious students of the Bible, weighing Paul’s teachings in light of what the Bible said. As they took God’s Word to heart, more people were coming to faith in Jesus.
The Bereans are good examples of spiritual discernment. When we hear sermons, listen to music, or engage in conversation, it is good to test what we hear with what God’s Word says. The Bible is the standard of truth because it is the Word of God. Knowing what God’s Word says will help us to know Jesus better and be able to discern truth from error in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “Does the Gospel hold the solution to the racial division that we see in our nation?”
Yes, the Gospel does have the solution if our nation is willing to embrace God’s love and authority over us. It is not compatible to be receptive to God’s love and harbor hatred for people at the same time. The Apostle Paul is a great example of someone who showed disdain for Christians until he became a Christian. Then, his heart became tender, and his focus was to reach out to Jews and Gentiles with the Good news of Jesus Christ.
Likewise, God expanded Peter’s understanding of who He accepts, which led to Peter’s declaration in Acts 10:34: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”
God celebrates the variety of people He has made. His love extends beyond borders to reach out to every human on this planet. God so loved the world that He gave us Jesus. Every human being matters to God. His love for us moves us to compassion and respect for others. His love is capable of bringing racial harmony to this nation. Getting our hearts in alignment with God’s heart is the key to making this happen in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is meant by the phrase that God collects our tears in His bottle?”
In the New Living Translation, Psalm 56, verse 8 reads, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
David wrote this Psalm at a time when his enemies held him in captivity. He was in a fearful situation, and yet, expressed his faith in times of uncertainty, saying “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”
That is the background to David’s expression that God has collected all his tears in a bottle.
The basic idea behind this word picture is that God remembers our sorrows. He is able to retain it in His mind and keep track of the depth of the sorrows we experience. He is able to sympathize with us in our pain, and will vindicate our righteous causes at His appointed time.
In times of distress, we can take comfort in the fact we are on God’s radar. He cares for us. He hears our cries for mercy, and is close to our broken hearts in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the perseverance of the saints.
Church history is filled with testimonies of men and women who endured in the faith, even though their witness for Jesus was the reason for much hardship.
The Apostle Paul described his perseverance in the faith in Second Corinthians 4:8: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
Paul lived with hope in the midst of life’s harsh realities, because he kept Jesus in view in his faith. He saw the temporary trials of this life as a light burden compared to the eternal glory that awaited him. And so, he said, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
The perseverance of the saints is a testimony of a faith refined through the fire and is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What can we learn from the two thieves who died beside Jesus?”
Luke 23:32 tells us that two criminals were led out to be executed. One was placed to the right of Jesus, the other to His left.
One of the criminals joined the crowd and hurled insults at Jesus. He said, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
This was the voice of ridicule, taking a demanding tone with Jesus. This criminal may have wanted to save his own skin, but he did not have the humility to confess his own sin.
The other criminal rebuked the voice of ridicule, “Don’t you fear God since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man (Jesus) has done nothing wrong.” Then he turned to Jesus and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
This was the voice of a penitent man. He understood that he was a sinner, and that Jesus could help him. So, he requested that Jesus remember him, and Jesus promised him paradise that day.
The lesson we learn from this penitent thief is that it is never too late to call on the name of Jesus for salvation. So while we have breath, today is the moment of opportunity in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is the key to real and authentic freedom?”
Over the Fourth of July, America celebrates Independence Day with fireworks. Political liberties such as free speech, religious expression, freedom of assembly, and the freedom of the press are all granted in the U.S. Constitution. These are some of the liberties that we enjoy today, which many other nations do not experience.
As precious as these liberties are, they are not the keys to real and authentic freedom. Jesus offers us the key in John 8:36. He said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Jesus was referring to Himself. He is full of grace and truth. One of His purposes for coming to the world was to set the captives free. In verse 31, He says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
While political freedoms can be taken away, no one can steal away our spiritual liberty. The truth of Jesus’ words and His gospel of grace are keys to real and authentic freedom in the Year of Exploration.