JOHN SHIRK – From First Corinthians 12:20.
Speaking of the church, “As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
The picture of the church is compared to the human body, where the parts are connected and working together to contribute to a healthy body. This statement comes between two interesting points made by the Apostle Paul.
The first point stresses the importance of each body part to someone who might feel inferior to others. “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’ it would not cease to be part of the body.” Each part matters and has an important role to fulfill. No part is so insignificant that it does not have something to contribute.
The second point also stresses the importance of each body part; this time, to someone who may feel superior to others. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’” No part is so important that it does not need the support or help of others.
The purpose of service in the church is for the common good of the church and to lift up Jesus as Lord to a watching world.
Expression of spiritual gifts in the church is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Leviticus 19:32.
“Rise in the presence of the aged; show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.”
Out of reverence to God, we are led to respect the elderly and those who are in authority over us. Those who are advanced in years have a wealth of experience and many have gained wisdom through that experience. The book of Proverbs is an example of the voice of experience offering wisdom to the next generation, so that they might grow up to honor the LORD.
Proverbs 1:8 says, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.”
One way we can show respect for the elderly is to listen to their wisdom and learn from their wisdom. Consider their counsel seriously. The Bible also talks about respecting our church leaders and cooperating with them in service to God.
Respect for the elderly and reverence for God are vital signs of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Matthew 7, verses 13 and 14.
Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
It’s not always wise to follow the crowd, especially if the crowd is headed in the wrong direction. Jesus urges us to find life through the road less traveled. Some people in the world believe that there are many paths that lead to God. But this view contradicts what Jesus said when He told His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He also said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”
According to Jesus, He is the only way to a relationship with God the Father and eternal life. By faith, we can walk with God and enjoy His fellowship forever.
Following Jesus is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From John 8:24-
Jesus had some tough words for the Pharisees. He said, “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”
Jesus is giving both a warning to the Pharisees and an opportunity to change their mind about Him. In John 5:18, we learn that in calling God His own Father, He was making Himself equal with God. Denying the claims of Jesus as the Son of God to the very end leads us to a bitter end. But it does not have to end that way. The coming of Jesus to the world means that through faith in His name, we don’t have to die in our sins, but rather in His grace.
There is a Savior. His name is Jesus. And His death on the cross means forgiveness to all who call on Him to save us from our sins.
His resurrection means victory and eternal life. Our hope remains firm because Jesus is alive and well.
Faith in the name of Jesus is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Matthew 7:24 and 25.
Jesus wrapped up the Sermon On the Mount by saying, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
The words of Jesus are so dependable that we can build our life on them. He gives us a firm foundation that provides stability for our lives when the storms of life test our strength.
Jesus said we would have times of trouble in this world. He did not hide that fact from us. At the same time, He also assured us of His presence to be with us, and His grace to help us in our times of need.
There is another side of the story that Jesus also brings to our attention. “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who build his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” In both cases, it was the storm that revealed the strength of the foundation.
Hearing Jesus’ words and putting them into practice is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Revelation 7:17.
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
This is the picture of the relief that awaits those who were cleansed by the blood of Jesus and have come out of the great tribulation on the earth.
Jesus was described by John the Baptist as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. In heaven, the Lamb is also the Shepherd. Those who look to Him with a trusting heart are cleansed of their sin. As we follow Jesus, we can depend on Him to lead us to a place of righteousness, joy in His holy Presence, relief from pain and suffering, and eternal life.
In Heaven, Jesus is the central focus. We can prepare for heaven now by putting Jesus as the center of our attention and devotion today.
A life centered on Christ is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Isaiah 6:8.
The prophet said, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!”
God’s people have responded to God’s call differently. Jonah heard God’s call and tried to hide from God. The reason for this was that he lacked concern for the people God wanted him to confront. Moses heard God’s call and made excuses as to why he was not the right man for the job. He was focused on his personal limitations. Isaiah responded to God’s call by making himself available to the Lord for His service. He was focused on the worthiness and holiness of the LORD. This is the focus that will give us a willing heart to carry out what God wants us to do.
Worship leads us to an awareness of God’s wisdom to guide us in His will, and His strength to carry us through.
Saying “yes” to God’s opportunities is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From John 8, verses 10 and 11.
Jesus asked a woman caught in adultery, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir”, she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you. Go, now and leave your life of sin.”
This woman must have thought her life was coming to an end as her hidden sin of adultery was exposed in public. The religious leaders used this opportunity to try to trap Jesus. Their main goal was not to find fault with the woman, but Jesus. They said to Jesus, “The Law of Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
Jesus responds by writing on the ground, and then saying, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
No one threw a stone at her. The woman was spared the death penalty. Jesus was offering her a pardon from her past, and freedom for her future. In a world of sin, Jesus teaches us to abstain from finger-pointing blame and to confront sin with grace. The evidence of our sin gives us no platform to condemn another person. Just like with the woman caught in adultery, the forgiveness Jesus offers is an opportunity to turn from our sin and follow Him with a pure heart. Isaiah 30:15 says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation.”
Repentance is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Exodus 12:13.
Recalling the first Passover: The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
Judgment was coming on all the gods of Egypt. But the word was sent out to the Israelite community that they would be spared this judgment by taking a lamb without defect, slaughtering it, and taking some of the blood and putting it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.
As we fast forward time to Jesus, we see that He was the Lamb of God without defect, who became the sufficient sacrifice to spare us from the coming judgment. Through faith in the name of Jesus, our sins are not held against us. The wrath of God passes over us because the grace of God protects us.
First Corinthians 5:7 says, “For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.”
Celebrating Jesus with sincerity and truth is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From First Corinthians 1, verses 22 to 24.
Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Here we learn that our racial background is not a hindrance to the Gospel. God’s love extends to all the people of the world. Jews and Gentiles are invited to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. However, unbelief is a barrier that keeps people separated from God.
The Gospel is simple enough for a child to understand, and at the same time, contains mysteries that perplex the scholar. It brings comfort to those who are disturbed, and disturbs those who insist on being comfortable. The message of the cross is foolishness and weakness to the unbeliever, but to those who believe the Gospel, it is the wisdom and power of God.
Through Jesus, we have a testimony of God’s grace to provide for a forgiven past, a present help, and a future hope.
Belief in the Gospel is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.