JOHN SHIRK – Hebrews 12 gives us insight into God’s purpose for discipline.
Verse 5 says, “You have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.
So, when the Lord disciplines His people, He is doing this in the context of a family relationship, from Father to a son or daughter.
What we learn here is that the process of experiencing discipline is painful. The intention of God’s discipline is for our good. The purpose for discipline is so that we might share in His holiness. The fruit of discipline is a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
God’s discipline is not to be taken lightly as “no big deal” or to weigh us down to feel condemned. His discipline is a sign of His love for us, and His desire for us is to heed His discipline and learn from it.
God’s discipline is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – To know whether or not we can trust something or someone, we need to have confidence in whether or not they are true. The words ‘true’ and ‘trustworthy’ go together.
On one occasion, Jesus prayed for His followers, saying, “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth.”
When does the Bible make a difference in our lives? When we accept it as truth. That is where we find Jesus crucified for our sins, then risen from the dead, and exalted as Lord.
In First Thessalonians 2:13, Paul wrote a letter to the church saying, “We also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”
This is how the Bible can have a life-changing impact on our lives that transforms us into the likeness of Christ-when we humbly accept the words of Scripture as the words of truth. Then, we will have a trustworthy resource for knowing God and knowing what He wants us to do.
The reliability of God’s Word is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – Psalm 104 is a chapter that talks about God’s creation of the world and how He provides for His creation. The writer marveled at God’s handiwork, saying, “How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”
He recognized our dependence on God’s favor for the blessings that sustain us. In reflecting on the wisdom of God and His many works, the writer responded with this expression of praise in verse 33.
“I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.”
There are many reasons for us to praise God. His creation, formed from His wisdom, is one of those reasons. Take a look around, and express gratitude to God for the world He has made. You can also look at the mirror and thank Him for creating you uniquely and loving you completely.
Expression of praise to God is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – There are several ways we might be tempted to sin-Either through the external forces of the world’s value system and the influence of Satan or through the internal force of the sinful nature.
The source of Jesus’ temptation was not internal, but rather external, because He had no sinful nature. But He was tempted externally by the devil.
It happened in Luke 4. The devil tempted Jesus three times, and each time, Jesus responded with the words, It is written. He resisted the devil by using the Word of God.
That resource is available to us today, and will help us in moments of temptation. The writer of Psalm 119 said to the LORD, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
Hiding God’s Word in our heart is effective for overcoming temptation and is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – Adam and Eve were free to eat the fruit of any tree except from the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil.
But Satan tried to portray God as a naysayer when he approached Eve. He said, “Did God really say, ‘you must not eat from any tree in the garden?’
Eve corrected him, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”
Satan’s next tactic was to portray God as a rival. He said, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” With these words, he persuaded Eve to disobey God and take a bite.
Sin is the great tragedy of humanity. Paradise was lost through sin. The good news is that paradise is restored through Jesus Christ.
Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Salvation through Jesus Christ overcomes the tragedy of sin and is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – From Ephesians 3:17 and 18-And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.
His love is wide. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
His love is long. Isaiah 59:1 says, “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save.” Jesus came the distance from heaven to earth to rescue us from the eternal consequences of our sin.
His love is high. Psalm 103:11 says, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.”
His love is deep. Micah 7:19 says, “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
Each dimension of God’s love is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – WJTL, remembers what the Bible says about Lot.
He lived in a civilization with much moral decay. Sodom and Gomorrah was about to be destroyed. Lot’s family was perhaps the only God-fearing family left. Second Peter 2:7 calls him a righteous man who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men.
Just before the destruction of these cities, Lot tried to appeal to the residents to stop with their evil intentions, but they would not listen to him. They said, “Get out of our way. This fellow came here as an alien and now he wants to play the judge!” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.
Sometimes, when we stand for what is right, the world will apply pressure for us to retreat. We might be falsely accused or belittled for what we believe to be true. In the face of mounting pressure, that is the time for our faith to shine brightly and stand firm in our witness for Christ. In climates of corruption, the world needs courageous voices who are willing to speak up for what is right in the eyes of the Lord, not with a spirit of condemnation, but with a heart of conviction.
Lot’s appeal for righteousness is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – In Luke 17, Jesus told us to remember Lot’s wife. The reason that Jesus wants us to go back to the book of Genesis is so that we might take heed and learn from her fatal mistake. As Sodom and Gomorrah was being destroyed, members of Lot’s family were fleeing for safety. The angels urged them NOT to look back. Lot’s wife escaped the destruction of her city, but looked back and became a pillar of salt.
Was this just an innocent glance? It appears that there was more than just turning around to see the destruction of the city. It is quite possible that in her heart, she looked back with affection at her past, and was not willing to put it behind her. When Jesus talked about remembering Lot’s wife, he then said, “Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”
One of the lessons of faith that we can learn from Lot’s wife is to leave the emptiness of our past behind, and not to think of returning. We can’t move forward in our faith with the Lord if our heart is longing to return to our past before we came to Christ. The Apostle Paul’s perspective was different than Lot’s wife. He said, “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
The downfall of Lot’s wife is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – 2013 is a Year to Remember at WJTL. Since faith remembers God, we will reflect on matters of historical and Biblical significance so that we might learn from the past and grow in the faith.
Today WJTL remembers the Great Confession.
In Matthew 16, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”
Then Jesus asked them, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
This is what is known as the Great Confession, which acknowledges the title of Jesus as being the anointed one of God to be the Savior of the world. This confession also acknowledges the deity of Jesus as the Son of God. He was born, not from the seed of man, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus responded to Peter’s confession by calling him blessed. We too will experience God’s blessing by acknowledging Jesus for who He is.
Peter’s Confession in Matthew 16 is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – We are coming toward the end of 2012, the Year of Transformation at WJTL, with an emphasis on life change from the inside out. I sincerely hope that the devotionals and the stories of changed lives that we have been sharing have left an impression on your life in terms of how Jesus is able to transform you to be more like Christ and to prepare you for doing God’s will with a sincere heart of devotion.
When we talk of transformation, I often think of Second Corinthians 3:18 which says, “we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
So, for the disciple of Jesus, God’s Spirit is working in our lives constantly. It’s a process of transformation, where we are learning who Jesus is more thoroughly, seeing Him for clearly, and reflecting Him more accurately. So, there is in the Christian life two types of transformation taking place. One type of transformation is when we first acknowledge our need for Jesus to be our Savior and Lord and are converted to becoming a Christ follower. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. And then the second type of transformation is a process called sanctification, where Jesus is shaping us on a daily basis to grow in godly character and maturity. So, even though we are moving into a new focus next year, let’s never forget that Jesus touches lives in ways that transform our hearts. Up and coming in 2013 will be the Year to Remember. We will remember highlights in church history, and lessons of faith from the Bible, because faith remembers God in the midst of daily life and learns from past experiences.