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.
JOHN SHIRK -From Hebrews 9:27 and 28.
“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
This passage reveals two appearances of Christ to earth. One appearance happened in history. His purpose for coming was to restore us to God through His sacrifice on the cross. The second appearance is a future event. His purpose for coming again is to bring reality to His promise of eternal life.
First Thessalonians 4:17 tells us that when Christ comes again, those who are in Christ will be with the Lord forever.
That is what makes salvation so precious. We will be in God’s presence, and nothing will be able to separate us from life’s most important relationship.
Being ready for Christ’s second appearance is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Second Corinthians 1:20.
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so, through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises. In Christ we see the completeness of God’s faithfulness to do what He says He would do. In sending Jesus to the world, He was providing for our greatest needs-forgiveness of our sins and restoration to God.
The fulfillment of God’s promises builds the faith of the believer so that we proclaim His praises. As Jesus is lifted up, He said He would draw all men to Himself. That means, through the cross, Jesus is extending His invitation for us to come to Him for forgiveness and restoration. No one who receives Jesus as Savior and Lord is denied His grace. The fact that God is true to His Word means that we can trust His promises, including the gift of eternal life to all who put their faith in Jesus.
Trusting God’s Promises is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
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 Esther 4:14.
A quote from Mordecai to Queen Esther, “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
This is perhaps the most often quoted passage in the book of Esther. Even though this book of the Bible does not mention God by name, His hand is clearly working in the circumstances that are unfolding in this book. An evil plot by Haman to wipe out the Jews is thwarted by Queen Esther. She used her influence to spare the Jews from annihilation. Her relative Mordecai offered her the encouragement she needed to take a personal risk for the sake of saving her people.
Whatever platform God has given us, that is an opportunity to stand for what is right. It may involve personal risk. We might pay the price of persecution for standing against evil. At the same time, we will know the joy of developing a deeper relationship with God as we follow Jesus with a loyal heart.
There are general purposes that God has for His followers: Knowing Him better, Glorifying Jesus, Building the church by the use of our spiritual gifts, and being a witness for Jesus to a world who needs His grace. For such a time as this, God is raising up His people to shine the light of grace and truth on a world darkened by division and deception.
Using our position as a platform to do God’s will is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Hebrews 13:14.
“For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”
There are some major differences between being a citizen on the earth and a child of God’s Kingdom. The things of this world are temporary. The treasures of God’s kingdom are eternal. Our achievements on this earth that lead to trophies, medals, and honors will fade away, but our relationship with God and our service for Him will last forever. Our anticipation of heaven inspires us to be more productive, not less productive while we live on the earth.
In light of keeping our focus on the city that is to come, the next verse (Hebrews 13:15) says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with sacrifices God is pleased.”
Seeking first after God’s Kingdom and His righteousness is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.