JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “Does the Gospel hold the solution to the racial division that we see in our nation?”
Yes, the Gospel does have the solution if our nation is willing to embrace God’s love and authority over us. It is not compatible to be receptive to God’s love and harbor hatred for people at the same time. The Apostle Paul is a great example of someone who showed disdain for Christians until he became a Christian. Then, his heart became tender, and his focus was to reach out to Jews and Gentiles with the Good news of Jesus Christ.
Likewise, God expanded Peter’s understanding of who He accepts, which led to Peter’s declaration in Acts 10:34: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”
God celebrates the variety of people He has made. His love extends beyond borders to reach out to every human on this planet. God so loved the world that He gave us Jesus. Every human being matters to God. His love for us moves us to compassion and respect for others. His love is capable of bringing racial harmony to this nation. Getting our hearts in alignment with God’s heart is the key to making this happen in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is meant by the phrase that God collects our tears in His bottle?”
In the New Living Translation, Psalm 56, verse 8 reads, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
David wrote this Psalm at a time when his enemies held him in captivity. He was in a fearful situation, and yet, expressed his faith in times of uncertainty, saying “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”
That is the background to David’s expression that God has collected all his tears in a bottle.
The basic idea behind this word picture is that God remembers our sorrows. He is able to retain it in His mind and keep track of the depth of the sorrows we experience. He is able to sympathize with us in our pain, and will vindicate our righteous causes at His appointed time.
In times of distress, we can take comfort in the fact we are on God’s radar. He cares for us. He hears our cries for mercy, and is close to our broken hearts in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the perseverance of the saints.
Church history is filled with testimonies of men and women who endured in the faith, even though their witness for Jesus was the reason for much hardship.
The Apostle Paul described his perseverance in the faith in Second Corinthians 4:8: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
Paul lived with hope in the midst of life’s harsh realities, because he kept Jesus in view in his faith. He saw the temporary trials of this life as a light burden compared to the eternal glory that awaited him. And so, he said, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
The perseverance of the saints is a testimony of a faith refined through the fire and is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What can we learn from the two thieves who died beside Jesus?”
Luke 23:32 tells us that two criminals were led out to be executed. One was placed to the right of Jesus, the other to His left.
One of the criminals joined the crowd and hurled insults at Jesus. He said, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
This was the voice of ridicule, taking a demanding tone with Jesus. This criminal may have wanted to save his own skin, but he did not have the humility to confess his own sin.
The other criminal rebuked the voice of ridicule, “Don’t you fear God since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man (Jesus) has done nothing wrong.” Then he turned to Jesus and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
This was the voice of a penitent man. He understood that he was a sinner, and that Jesus could help him. So, he requested that Jesus remember him, and Jesus promised him paradise that day.
The lesson we learn from this penitent thief is that it is never too late to call on the name of Jesus for salvation. So while we have breath, today is the moment of opportunity in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is the key to real and authentic freedom?”
Over the Fourth of July, America celebrates Independence Day with fireworks. Political liberties such as free speech, religious expression, freedom of assembly, and the freedom of the press are all granted in the U.S. Constitution. These are some of the liberties that we enjoy today, which many other nations do not experience.
As precious as these liberties are, they are not the keys to real and authentic freedom. Jesus offers us the key in John 8:36. He said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Jesus was referring to Himself. He is full of grace and truth. One of His purposes for coming to the world was to set the captives free. In verse 31, He says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
While political freedoms can be taken away, no one can steal away our spiritual liberty. The truth of Jesus’ words and His gospel of grace are keys to real and authentic freedom in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the dignity of human beings in the eyes of God.
David marveled at God’s thoughtfulness of the people He created, even though we occupy such a small space in the grand scheme of His universe.
In Psalm 8, he wrote, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands.”
This knowledge led David to a place of worship. He ended Psalm 8 with the same phrase that he began it. “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
The dignified place that God gives us on the earth is an occasion to celebrate the majesty of His name and is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the waves of the ocean crashing on the shore.
If you ever go to the beach, one thing you can count on seeing is plenty of waves. They crash along the shore so consistently. They may vary in their height and intensity, but they are dependable.
The crashing of the waves forms a mental picture of God’s grace poured out on His people. John 1:16 says, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.”
Just as one wave replaces another at the beach, so the grace of Jesus comes to us in waves. His supply is fresh for each new day and reliable for meeting us at our point of need.
So, the next time you go to the beach, let the waves get your feet wet, and let it remind you of the constant, plentiful supply of God’s grace for His people. It will never run dry.
Each wave of the ocean crashing along the shore is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “To what extent did God demonstrate His love for us?”
Philippians 2:8 reveals how far Jesus was willing to go for the sake of saving your soul and honoring His Father’s redemptive plan.
“Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross.”
His love can be defined by severe mercy, extreme sacrifice, extravagant grace, and extraordinary forgiveness.
Why would Jesus love us to this extent? The purpose for His sacrifice is found in First Peter 3:18: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”
If you feel unworthy to be loved by God, join the club. In that regard, we are all unworthy. But God gave us a gift. That gift is Jesus, and His love is good news to the extreme in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the strength of God’s love.
God’s strength is able to prevent destructive and divisive influences from threatening our relationship with God.
Speaking of His followers, Jesus said in John 10:27, “I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them from my hand. My Father, who has given them to me is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
Romans 8:38 gives us another view of the strength of God’s love. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present, nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This strong love of God draws us near to Jesus, and His strong love keeps us secure in His grace. We can hold on to Him with the confidence that He will not let go of us.
The strength of God’s love is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the height of God’s love.
Psalm 103, verse 11 says, “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.”
High towers are like magnets to our eyes. If we approach a major city, those are the structures that tend to capture our attention first.
But no tower extends into the heavens like the love of God, which reflects the distance that Jesus traveled to demonstrate God’s love at the cross.
Proverbs 18:10 tells us that the name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
God’s love stands tall as a place of refuge for our soul.
The height of God’s love is a reason to believe in God’s good news.