JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is the connection between the judgment seat of Christ and the Olympics?”
Second Corinthians 5:10 says that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him, for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” Romans 14:12 says that each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
This judgment seat of Christ is sometimes described as the Bema Seat. In Greek culture, the Bema seat was the place where the judges gave out awards after athletic competitions. This might be compared to the Olympic ceremonies where various medals are awarded to athletes.
A day is coming when believers in Christ will appear at the judgment seat of Christ to have our lives evaluated for the deeds we have done in the body. This is not a judgment to evaluate salvation. That is settled through faith in Jesus. The judgment seat of Christ will determine rewards, based on various types of faithful service.
The judgment seat of Christ is a future reality that motivates us to run for the prize of God’s lasting crown in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the dove.
This bird is a powerful symbol of the Christian faith in various ways.
The dove is a symbol of peace. After the storm in Noah’s day, it was a dove that brought back an olive branch signifying peace and the new start that God was offering the world.
The dove is a symbol of purity. Perhaps that is why Jesus instructed us to be innocent as doves as we share His gospel.
The dove is also a symbol of faithfulness. Turtle doves have a tendency to have one mate for life.
The dove is also a symbol for the Holy Spirit. At Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in bodily form like a dove. Since doves tend to hover, that is probably how the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus, hovering over Him.
The characteristics of the dove highlight various dimensions of the Christian faith and are reasons to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the making of a disciple.
This process begins at the point of conversion to Christ, where faith begins to take root in the believer’s life. From that foundation, the new believer walks with Christ and learns to follow Him as Lord and Savior. As this happens, the believer in Christ grows in godly character and becomes a witness for Christ, testifying of His saving grace.
One of the compelling characteristics of the disciple’s progress is their spiritual growth, whereby they become more and more like Jesus in character. There is a reason for that.
In Luke 6:40, Jesus said, “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.”
The making of a disciple into the likeness of Christ is the result of adequate training from a qualified Teacher and is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reasons to Believe are life, purpose and identity.
These three experiences of the Christian life are described in a single statement made by the Apostle Paul. When he was in Athens, he linked these experiences to a relationship with God. He said in
Acts 17:28, “In him, we live and move and have our being.”
In a relationship with God, we have life, eternally and abundantly through faith in Jesus Christ. Our spirit comes alive to God’s grace.
In a relationship with God, we move. He puts the purpose into the steps we take. That purpose is to glorify God. This focus will affect the choices we make day-to-day.
In a relationship with God, we have our being. As we know God as He is, we come to understand how He sees us. First John 3:1 says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
Life, Purpose, and Identity in Christ are reasons to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the influence of Christ on the calendar.
Today, in some circles, time is marked by “Common Era” and “Before Common Era”, otherwise known as C.E. and B.C.E.
But before this system was used, time was marked by B.C. and A.D. B.C. stands for “Before Christ” and A.D. stands for “Anno Domini” which means in the Year of our Lord. That system was designed hundreds of years after Christ was born, acknowledging Jesus Christ as the turning point of human history.
For the person who puts their faith in Christ, there is a turning point that leads to a new era. According to Second Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here.” Christ has come. The days “Before Christ” are of the past. Each year beyond conversion becomes the year of the Lord’s favor.
The impact of Jesus on the calendar of our lives is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is tithing, and what does the Bible say about it?”
Tithing is introduced in the Old Testament where the Israelites were instructed to bring ten percent of their income to the Lord in offerings.
In Malachi 3, the LORD compared failure to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse as an act of robbing Him. Jesus confirmed the value of tithing in Matthew 23, verse 23, but noted that there were more important matters of the law such as justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Jesus rebuked the teachers of the law for neglecting these more important matters of the law.
This is a good focus for us today, not to neglect the practice of tithing, but also to remember that there is more to following Christ than giving our ten percent.
The emphasis in the New Testament goes beyond numbers to the condition of the heart. Second Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
In this way, our tithes and generous gifts for the sake of God’s kingdom become fragrant offerings to God in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the Garden of Gethsemane.
This garden is located on the lower slope of the Mount of Olives and is the place where Jesus took His disciples just before he was arrested. This is a place that tourists can visit today.
The Garden of Gethsemane was a place where Jesus prayed earnestly in great anguish and entrusted Himself to the Father’s plan.
To get a sense of the deep burden that Jesus was carrying, Jesus said to three of His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
The Garden of Gethsemane reminds us that our greatest spiritual battles are won when we are on our knees, in fellowship with God, entrusting ourselves to His redemptive purposes in our lives.
The Garden of Gethsemane is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “How does God comfort the downcast?”
One way God comforts us in our sadness is that He gives us the hope of heaven, which reminds us that God has more joy to offer us than the world. Heaven is a future reality for anyone who follows Jesus.
God also provides comfort for the downcast in the present through the encouragement of His believers. An example of this is found in Second Corinthians 7:6, where the Apostle Paul says, “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” Through the arrival of Titus, Paul learned of the church’s ardent concern for him and their genuine sorrow about a situation in Corinth. Having a good relationship with the Corinthian church mattered to Paul. The report from Titus greatly encouraged him.
Look for ways that God can work through you to encourage someone who is downcast in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the clothing that we wear.
Clothing was introduced after sin entered the human race. It happened in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve felt shame after disobeying God. They tried to hide from God and wore fig leaves.
In Genesis 3:21, God made garments of skin for Adam and Eve, which would be a more adequate covering for them.
From our own resources, we are unable to provide an adequate covering for our sins. What we lack, God is able to provide. He offered the complete remedy through the sacrifice of Jesus.
Hiding from God is not the answer to our shame. Confession and forgiveness is the path to healing. First John 1:7 says, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
His garments of righteousness not only cover our shame, but also display character qualities of the faith such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love.
The clothing that we wear and the garments of righteousness are reasons to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What can we learn from the Bereans?”
There is a brief description of this group of people as Paul and Silas arrived in Berea. According to Acts 17:11, “the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.”
The Bereans would have been hungry for God’s Word, and as they examined the Scriptures daily, God’s Word was getting into them. They were serious students of the Bible, weighing Paul’s teachings in light of what the Bible said. As they took God’s Word to heart, more people were coming to faith in Jesus.
The Bereans are good examples of spiritual discernment. When we hear sermons, listen to music, or engage in conversation, it is good to test what we hear with what God’s Word says. The Bible is the standard of truth because it is the Word of God. Knowing what God’s Word says will help us to know Jesus better and be able to discern truth from error in the Year of Exploration.