JOHN SHIRK – From Romans 5:8.
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This highlights the difference between natural love and supernatural love. Many times in our world, people will wait to love someone until that person has proven themselves in some way, whether it be through attractiveness, accomplishment, or affluence.
God’s love is not like that. He did not wait to love us until we had proven ourselves worthy of love. If that were the case, Jesus would never have come. Instead, He made the first move toward us. He loved us first in the midst of our sinful condition, so that He could pull us out. We never have to wonder if God really loves us. If you ever feel that way, you can turn your eyes back to the cross of Christ. 2,000 years ago, His death was God’s ultimate expression of love to a world in desperate need of His grace.
Confidence in God’s love is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From First John 4:10.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
Just about anyone can say the words, “I love you”, but the real test of that love will come in actions. God’s expression of love for us was not empty. He backed up His claim with a sacrifice of love. He gave us Jesus, who paid the penalty for our sins so that we could enjoy the gift of eternal life. There is no way we can outdo the love of God. But through Jesus, it is possible for us to tap into that love and let it flow through us to share with others. The next verse, First John 4:11 says, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
God’s love is not to be hoarded, but shared. As God’s love compels us in our activity, the Holy Spirit enables us to thrive where we are planted. We are refreshed by His love, even as we bring refreshment to others.
The expressions of sincere love are vital signs of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Proverbs 17:17.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Friends have a way of multiplying our joys and dividing our sorrows. One story of true friendship in the Bible is between David and Jonathan. The Bible says that Jonathan loved David as he loved himself. Jonathan spoke well of David. He looked out for his protection when he was in danger. David knew that he could trust Jonathan’s word. Those are the qualities of friendship where there is a mutual level of respect and honesty with each other. True friends keep each other’s secrets. We open the window of our soul a bit wider to a friend than other people, having the confidence that they will love us through our strengths and weaknesses, and we will do the same for them.
Jesus talked about friendship with His disciples in John 15:13. He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” The next day, He died on a cross, expressing the purest form of friendship this world has ever known. As we follow Jesus, He teaches us how to be a good friend.
Being a faithful friend represents Jesus and is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
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.