JOHN SHIRK – from Colossians 4:5 and 6.
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Jesus once said that His followers were the salt of the earth, which indicates that we are called to flavor this world with the Gospel. One way that God helps us to do that is through our speech. When our words are full of grace, our witness reflects God’s love.
God’s grace is evident not only in the words we choose to say, but also how we choose to say them. A tone of gentleness and respect serves to build connections. When we hear of life challenges that someone is facing, we can offer to pray with them or remember them in our prayer time alone with God.
As we come into contact with unbelievers in our schools, our workplaces, and in other venues, God’s Word challenges us to look for those opportunities to share the Good News of God’s love with words of grace.
Conversation filled with grace is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Luke 8:21.
Jesus said, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
This statement broadens our view of family. At the time when Jesus said this, someone approached Jesus to tell him that his mother and brothers were standing outside wanting to see him. But they were having trouble getting through because of the crowd.
That is when Jesus widened the definition of His family circle to include anyone who was receptive to God’s Word and applied His truth to their lives. This application includes receiving the good news of salvation found only in Jesus Christ. This family definition includes people of faith for future generations, including ours. Family membership is one of God’s spiritual blessings for the follower of Christ. He enlarges our family to include God’s people who are brothers and sisters in Christ. Our fellowship is meaningful through the blood of Christ.
Putting God’s word into practice is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Hosea 10:12.
“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.”
Unattended soil is unproductive dirt. It just lays there, not producing anything that can be turned into food. This kind of soil is compared to the heart that is resistant to the Gospel. However, breaking up the unplowed ground of our heart is comparable to making our heart tender to God. We become receptive to the word of the Lord, and that word becomes a seed that springs forth a productive crop that leads to eternal life. The seed of God’s Word also produces the righteousness of Christ in us as we accept His message of grace by faith.
Choices have outcomes. We cannot expect good fruit to form out of bad seeds. Galatians 6:7 says, “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Seeking the LORD prepares our heart to receive the word of the LORD so that we might be trained in His righteousness and live a productive life.
Planting God’s Word in our heart is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From First Timothy 2, verses 1 to 3.
“I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior.”
Yesterday, Gerard Long of Alpha said this prayer on behalf of our nation: Dear God, my fervent prayer is that we would have an environment that is rich for the Gospel. We pray that nothing would hinder the Gospel of Jesus Christ from spreading throughout our nation. What a privilege to live in a country where we are free to worship Your precious name, Amen.
Today (November 06) is Election Day. Many people are going to the polls today to vote for government officials. This freedom is a tremendous privilege and responsibility.
Another freedom that we enjoy is the opportunity to pray.
Pray for wisdom as Americans vote for government officials. Pray for wisdom for the leaders who will be elected. They will have some enormous challenges to face.
Prayer for authority is a vital sign of changed lives in the on Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – from Matthew 14:27.
In the midst of stormy waters, the disciples had seen Jesus walking on water. Jesus immediately said to them, “Take courage! It is I. don’t be afraid.” Peter replied, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.
Jesus said, “Come.”
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me.” Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.
As long as Peter was walking toward Jesus, he was able to do something extraordinary. He was walking on water. He did not begin to sink until he took notice of the storm, and became gripped with fear. This has application for our lives. Fear keeps us from accomplishing the extraordinary things that God is calling us to do. Fear of the future, fear of public speaking, and fear of failure can paralyze us from drawing closer to Jesus. Faith in Jesus keeps us moving forward and rising above adversity. In the midst of our failures, we can call on Jesus for the strength to save us. His arm is long enough and His grip is strong enough to rescue us.
Faith focused on Jesus is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – from Ephesians 5:16 and 17.
“Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
God has a purpose for our lives. He made us so that we might enjoy fellowship with Him and make Him known to others.
How can we discern where the Lord is leading us? There are various factors that help us to understand God’s will for our lives.
God’s will is consistent with His Word. So, we can be confident that God would not lead us to live in such a way that contradicts the principles found in His Word. As we commit ourselves to God, He increasingly gives us clarity on what to do.
God’s will is also revealed through opportunities. The talents He gives us, along with our passions can become a platform for us to glorify God. Awareness of people’s needs provides opportunities to make a difference for them. The burdens that He gives us stir us to speak out and take a stand for Biblical virtues. Proverbs 3:6 tells us that as we acknowledge the LORD in all our ways, He will direct our paths. He will clear the way for us to do His will.
Making the most of God’s opportunities is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Colossians 3:17.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
The Christian faith is meant to be full-time, not compartmentalized. So, when we are in Christ, that is our identity, and wherever we go, that is an opportunity for His influence to shine through us.
This passage points out the importance of our words when representing Jesus. Will we speak the truth in love? Will our conversation encourage people to love the Lord with a fully devoted heart? Will we praise God with the words we say?
This passage also emphasizes the use of our deeds to honor God, which includes being available to serve God with our gifts and abilities, whether through teaching, music, hospitality, or generous giving. These are just a few ways that the love of God compels us to serve others so that they might be drawn to Jesus Christ.
Serving God with a grateful heart is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – from Exodus 29, verses 44 and 45.
The LORD said, “So I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.”
To be consecrated is to be set apart by the LORD for a special service. In this case, the process of consecration involved sacrifices of a bull and two rams, and the shedding of their blood.
This has relevance for us, not in the sense that we need to sacrifice animals in order to serve God, but that we are consecrated to the LORD through the cross. That is where Jesus died for our sins. His blood has the power to purify us and prepare us for service.
Second Corinthians 5:15 tells us that Jesus died for all, “that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised again.” By God’s grace, we are set apart for a particular purpose to bring glory to His name in our acts of service.
Consecration is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Second Corinthians 3:16.
“Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”
A veil is a piece of material that covers the face. In this context, it represents a barrier that keeps a person from seeing the Gospel. Verse 14 tells us that only in Christ is the veil taken away. Only in Christ do we have the permission to approach God’s throne of grace.
The lifting of the veil means that we have fresh new eyes for understanding the Bible. The Apostle Paul explained that whenever Moses was read, a veil covered the hearts of those who had not turned to Jesus for salvation. For the person who DID turn to the Lord, that was a different story. In the Old or New Testaments, we see the influence of Jesus. We learn how He fulfills the law and the prophets. We also come to understand how He fulfills our lives with God’s spiritual blessings. Some of these benefits are found in this chapter, Second Corinthians Three, such as righteousness, freedom, and transformation into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Turning to Jesus as Lord and Savior is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Isaiah 40:30 and 31.
“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Here we see three benefits of God’s grace granted to those who put their hope in the Lord.
1) He renews our strength. He gives us the energy and motivation for doing His will faithfully.
2) He gives us forward momentum. As we walk with God, He guides us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
3) He helps us to overcome life’s challenges and difficulties. To soar on wings like eagles is a picture of rising above the obstacles on the ground. We can count on God to carry us through times of trial and overcome the hurdles that slow down our spiritual progress. Jesus said we would have trouble, but not without His presence.
Hope is an acknowledgment that life is not as glorious as it will be, but by God’s grace, we will go forward in God’s plan, accomplish what He called us to do, and reach the place He is preparing for us.
Hope in the Lord is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.