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.
JOHN SHIRK – From First Timothy 1:15.
Words from the Apostle Paul, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst.”
There are times in the New Testament when Paul gives us a window into his tainted past. His conversion to Christ was a dramatic transformation of character in a short time. In reflecting on his life, Paul realized that there were many sins of his that Jesus had forgiven.
In this verse, we can put our personal name in place of the word “sinners”. Christ Jesus came into the world to save….me. His grace is a gift for me to receive. There is nothing I can do to earn it, but I can receive His forgiveness by trusting in the name of Jesus and what He did for me at the cross.
When we experience His forgiveness, our burden of guilt is removed and we can truly appreciate and celebrate what Jesus has done for us.
Recognizing Jesus as our Savior from sin is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Micah 5:2.
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.
This prophecy was fulfilled in Matthew 2:1, which says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod.
Jesus could have come to a major, strategic city to draw attention to His significant worth. However, He would be born in Bethlehem, a small town several miles from the holy city Jerusalem.
God does not work in conventional ways to advance His plan of redemption. Using conventional wisdom, Jesus might have appointed religious leaders to follow Him as disciples. But instead, Jesus appointed unschooled men to follow Him and be trained to become leaders of the early church.
In the Old Testament, Samuel wanted to appoint one of David’s brothers to be the next king of Israel. But God, seeing through appearance to the heart, was calling David. God can work through things and people whose value is overlooked by society, to draw the world to His grace and glory.
A receptive heart to Jesus is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK-from Luke 1:38.
After hearing what God was calling her to do, Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
She was given the task of delivering Jesus to the world.
The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Then later, the angel said, “For nothing is impossible with God.”
It was a sacred calling, and she accepted without hesitation. Mary’s response reminds us that the Lord has a purpose for us as well, a sacred calling to deliver the good news of Jesus Christ to the world. Mary’s response gives us insight of how to do that.
Respond as a servant of God. Don’t try to change the details of His plan. He knows what He is doing. He made us for such a time as this. This is the window of opportunity to follow His calling. As we cooperate with His mission, He provides the fruit. Some of it is evident and some of it is not.
Willingness to serve God is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Hebrews 9:22b.
“Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.”
This foundational truth points us to the reason why Jesus came to shed his blood for us. We have sinned against a holy God, and cannot save ourselves from the wages of sin, which is death. Only a hand beyond us could rescue us-a hand that is holy and nail-scarred. Up until the time of Christ, the blood of bulls and goats were sacrificed, but that was not really effective to forgive people’s sins. The Bible tells us that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That sacrificial system was only a shadow of things to come, not the real deal.
Verse 26 says that Christ has now appeared at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. His blood, shed on the cross, was a sufficient payment for our sins. Because of what Jesus did at the cross, we have forgiveness of sins through faith in His name. With the guilt of our sins cleared away, the barrier has been removed, and we have freedom to walk with God as His follower and friend.
Trusting the blood of Christ for forgiveness is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Micah 6:8.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Implications of acting justly include treating people with fairness and without discrimination based on racial background or economic status. Acting justly shows concern for the poor and takes a stand for innocent victims of injustice.
Loving mercy includes willingness to forgive the sins of others just as God forgave us. Another dimension of mercy is extending the kindness of God to a wounded soul.
Walking humbly with God acknowledges our own need for God’s grace and seeks to bring Him glory in our lives. We acknowledge His greatness and depend on His goodness. Where He leads us, we follow.
God has not left us without direction. He has provided a roadmap that reveals His good and pleasing purposes. The Bible is a valuable resource to guide us in the truth of God’s will.
Obedience to God’s Word is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From 2 Peter 1, verse 5 to 7.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control, and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
These are the qualities that reflect character development in the life of a devoted follower to Jesus. Many of these qualities are mentioned elsewhere as the fruit of the Spirit. Adding these virtues to our character can multiply opportunities to be a witness for Jesus. It was Jesus who took five loaves and two fish and multiplied them to feed 5,000 people. He can take what we offer Him, and multiply the impact.
Verse 8 says, “If you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Fruit of the Spirit is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.