JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is the role of spiritual leadership in the church?”
Ephesians 4:11 tells us that it was Jesus who gave gifts for “some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service.”
The purpose of teachers and preachers is to proclaim God’s word in a way that accurately represents God’s character and mobilizes God’s people to live out the Christian faith in acts of service.
As God’s word is faithfully proclaimed, the church body will grow in a number of ways:
According to Ephesians 4:12, the body of Christ will be built up. This implies that the faith of the church will grow stronger.
According to verse 13, the church will be unified in the faith.
And according to the same verse, the church will become mature in the faith so that we can reflect Jesus in our witness.
Leadership sets the tone for the church to grow together in faith and to express our faith through love in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is people all over the world.
Today, there are over 7.1 billion people in the world, and God is the creator of each person who lives on the face of the earth at this time.
Psalm 145, verse 9 tells us that “ the LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”
The LORD knew about each one of us before we were born, He knew what we needed, and He provided a way for us to live forever with Him when He sent Jesus to the world.
The writer of Psalm 95 acknowledged God as Creator and responded with worship. Verse 6 says, “Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God.” Our breathing proves that we exist, but our worship reflects that we thrive for the glory of God.
The people of the world have been made in the image of God, and were made to bring glory to God. The existence of people on the earth is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What does it mean to be made in God’s image?”
In Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air.”
Here we see the creation of humans set apart from the animal kingdom. Humans have been uniquely made in God’s image.
That reflection was marred in a moral sense when sin entered the human race, but according to James 3:9, humans are still being made in God’s likeness.
There are several ways in which we are made in God’s likeness. God communicated when He created us. And we have the capacity to communicate by putting our thoughts into words.
God also gave us the capacity to reason. In Isaiah 1:18, He says to humans, “Let us reason together.”
God also gave us the capacity for love. The Bible tells us that God is love, and He also demonstrated His love for us by sending Jesus to the world. First John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.”
These are some of the ways we are made in God’s image in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What does the Bible have to say about zeal?”
There are several positive statements and cautious statements about zeal in the Bible.
Romans 12:11 says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” This kind of enthusiasm can be a contagious quality when directed by love for the Lord.
But there is danger in misplaced zeal. Before knowing Christ, the Apostle Paul said that in his zeal, he persecuted the church. So, he knows what he is talking about when he says in Galatians 4:18, “It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good.”
And it is good to understand what the zeal of God accomplishes. Isaiah 9:7 talks about the coming kingdom that Jesus establishes with peace, justice, and righteousness. It is the zeal of the LORD Almighty that accomplishes this.
So, in misplaced zeal, we see the danger of fanaticism if it is not based on knowledge or directed to a good purpose. But we also see that zeal is a spark that God can use in us to accomplish His purposes in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the providence of God.
Providence refers to the guiding hand of God moving in the events of our lives with His wisdom and love.
An example of God’s providence in the Bible was the encounter of Cornelius and Peter for a redemptive purpose. Both Cornelius and Peter were experiencing a vision from God close together for the purpose of bringing them together. Each person had something to learn from the other.
From Peter, Cornelius and his relatives heard the good news of Jesus and received the Holy Spirit.
From Cornelius, Peter learned that God’s grace was available not just for the Jews, but also the Gentiles. He said in Acts 10:34, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”
The Providence of God orchestrates the circumstances of our lives with Divine appointments, and is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the peace that flows out of thoughts focused on Jesus.
In Philippians 4:8, the Apostle Paul gave this word of instruction:
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”
Jesus fits the description of all these qualities-He is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. This verse is a call to setting our minds on things above, not on earthly things.
What we think about can have a huge impact on our personal ambitions and affections. Jesus tells us in the Greatest Commandment of all to love the LORD God with all of our being, which includes our mind. According to Philippians 4:9, as we focus our thoughts on the virtuous qualities of God’s kingdom and put them into practice, the peace of God will be with us. We can rest in the grace of God, knowing that our lives are built on a firm foundation.
The peace that flows out of thoughts focused on Jesus is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the contribution of Christian influence in the world.
Tim Keller has said that “the Christian worldview has made foundational contributions to our own culture that may not be readily apparent.”
As we look at history, we see how compassion prompted followers of Jesus to start orphanages, hospitals, and rescue missions.
Many colleges in our nation (including Ivy League schools) began with a Christian foundation.
Through the influence of Christ’s followers, slavery was abolished in some nations.
And missionaries have traveled to other nations to spread the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Many of these influences in society are still vibrant today, focusing on healing, serving, educating, and building communities for the glory of God. These are some of the ways that Christians have followed the words of Jesus to serve as salt in the earth and light in the world.
The contribution of Christian influence to our communities is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question “How can I draw near to God?”
The writer of Psalm 73:28 said, “As for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge.”
You can sense peace and security in that statement, and when we experience that kind of intimacy with God, we recognize that there is no better place to be.
But sometimes we might feel far away from God. This might happen because trouble surrounds us. We need help, yet we feel alone. Those are times to speak truth to ourselves. This is what the writer of Psalm 42 said in a similar situation. He said, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
At other times, we might feel far away from God because we have moved. In those cases, James 4:7 gives us this insight for moving closer to God. “Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God, and he will come near to you.”
Submission to God moves us closer to God where we can experience His peace once again in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is the connection between the judgment seat of Christ and the Olympics?”
Second Corinthians 5:10 says that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him, for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” Romans 14:12 says that each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
This judgment seat of Christ is sometimes described as the Bema Seat. In Greek culture, the Bema seat was the place where the judges gave out awards after athletic competitions. This might be compared to the Olympic ceremonies where various medals are awarded to athletes.
A day is coming when believers in Christ will appear at the judgment seat of Christ to have our lives evaluated for the deeds we have done in the body. This is not a judgment to evaluate salvation. That is settled through faith in Jesus. The judgment seat of Christ will determine rewards, based on various types of faithful service.
The judgment seat of Christ is a future reality that motivates us to run for the prize of God’s lasting crown in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the dove.
This bird is a powerful symbol of the Christian faith in various ways.
The dove is a symbol of peace. After the storm in Noah’s day, it was a dove that brought back an olive branch signifying peace and the new start that God was offering the world.
The dove is a symbol of purity. Perhaps that is why Jesus instructed us to be innocent as doves as we share His gospel.
The dove is also a symbol of faithfulness. Turtle doves have a tendency to have one mate for life.
The dove is also a symbol for the Holy Spirit. At Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in bodily form like a dove. Since doves tend to hover, that is probably how the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus, hovering over Him.
The characteristics of the dove highlight various dimensions of the Christian faith and are reasons to believe in God’s good news.