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John Shirk

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Today’s Opportunity To Grow Toward Christ-Optimism

john : December 8, 2011 4:46 pm : John Shirk

JOHN SHIRK – Optimism sees the favorable side of events or conditions. Optimism also anticipates the best possible outcome.

Winston Churchill described the difference between a pessimist and optimist this way: The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.

Based on this description, we can be motivated by the optimism of Paul’s faith in the Bible, which propelled him forward in God’s plan.  In Second Corinthians 4:8, he said, “we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted; but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  As we can see from Paul’s statement, optimism does not mean that we deny reality.  However, we do view reality through the lens of God’s effective grace being our source of strength in the midst of life’s difficulties.

Paul also had an optimistic view of the future.  In verse 16 of the same chapter, he said, “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly, we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all.”

Optimism is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Today’s Opportunity to Grow Toward Christ-Meekness

john : December 5, 2011 5:08 pm : John Shirk

JOHN SHIRK – Sometimes, meekness is seen as a timid characteristic.  We sing of the Christ child being born meek and mild.  Because a baby is frail by nature, we might tend to equate meekness with weakness.  But according to author Dave Harvey, ‘meekness has nothing to do with being weak or passive. Meekness is power harnessed by love.’

This is a particularly strong characteristic when it comes to responding to sin.  With meekness, we entrust ourselves to God, and do not let the sin of others lead us into a sinful response. This involves restraining angry outbursts, keeping a check on the words we use, and refraining from seeking revenge.

Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret-it leads only to evil.”

Meekness is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Today’s Opportunity to Grow Toward Christ-Effervescence

john : December 2, 2011 3:28 pm : John Shirk

JOHN SHIRK – To be effervescent is to be vivacious, bubbling with energy and enthusiasm.

In the Christian life, effervescence flows out of a daily, vibrant relationship with Jesus. Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. As God’s Spirit moves in us, there is fruit in the form of godly characteristics. Love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness, to name a few. The influence of Jesus stirs us to be a radiant witness for Him.

Jesus says in John 7:38, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water flow from within him.”

Effervescence is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Today’s Opportunity to Grow Toward Christ-Childlike Faith

john : November 30, 2011 2:18 pm : John Shirk

JOHN SHIRK – With a childlike faith, we live with the wonder and awe of what Christ has done for us. We rely completely on His grace. We trust hopefully in His promises. What He tells us, we will believe. Where we lack understanding, we ask questions with the sincere desire to learn what Jesus wants to teach us.

Oftentimes, adults think of ways they can be an example for children, but when it comes to faith, Jesus tells the adults to learn from the example of children.

In Matthew 18:2, Jesus called a little child and had him stand among them. Then, He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

A Childlike faith is a humble character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Today’s Opportunity to Grow Toward Christ-Fruitfulness

john : November 22, 2011 3:45 pm : John Shirk

JOHN SHIRK – Fruitfulness can be described as “producing good results.”  Jesus talked about fruitfulness in John 15.  He said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”  This happens when we are connected to Jesus just like the branches are connected to the vine. Jesus is the source of our strength, nourishing our souls with His grace and truth, flourishing our witness for Him under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

As we walk with God, He not only saves us from our sins, but also develops our character so that our witness for Jesus has a fruitful impact on other people.

Second Peter, chapter one talks about various character qualities that grow in us as we grow in the Lord. “Faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.”

Verse 8 says that “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.”

Fruitfulness is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Today’s Opportunity to Grow Toward Christ-Cooperation

john : November 17, 2011 3:56 pm : John Shirk

JOHN SHIRK – Cooperation occurs when a group of individuals work together for a common purpose or benefit.

The church is described as a body-one unit with different parts.  It is necessary for the different parts to be working in cooperation with each other so that the head of the body, Jesus Christ, is honored in our efforts.  There are serious warnings in the Scripture about what will happen if the members of a church do not work together.

Galatians 5:15 says, “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

However, if we back up a verse or two, we see how the church can be a thriving place of ministry and outreach.  “Serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” Jesus is the reason that the church exists and the purpose of our mission.  Ephesians 4:16 says, “From Him, the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

Cooperation is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Today’s Opportunity to Grow Toward Christ-Efficiency

john : November 14, 2011 3:45 pm : John Shirk

JOHN SHIRK – Efficiency functions in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort.

An efficient worker uses what they have wisely to be as productive as they can, and that includes the use of time.

In our relationship with God, an efficient faith is carried out with wisdom and seizing opportunities along the way to be a witness for Jesus.

Ephesians 5:15 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

With an efficient faith, we are aware that the time we have here on earth is limited. Every day counts. And God has a purpose for us to express faith in love while we have breath.  We don’t want to squander our time.  This is a good day to look for opportunities to be a blessing as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Efficiency is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Today’s Opportunity to Grow Toward Christ-Graciousness

john : November 10, 2011 2:20 pm : John Shirk

JOHN SHIRK – Graciousness is marked by kindness and courtesy. A gracious person is tactful in the way they use words.  They are not intentionally hurtful, but they are intentionally helpful to build up others according to their needs.  Graciousness overflows with mercy and compassion.

Graciousness is found in the person of Jesus Christ.  When we look to Him, He influences us to become gracious people.

Proverbs 22:11 notes that graciousness is the kind of quality that wins over the affection of noble leaders. “He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.”

Here we find a link between the condition of our heart and the choice of our words.  This is where the grace of the Lord Jesus is influential to set our heart free from bitterness and impurity and to guide our speech into gentle, kind, and pleasing words. Graciousness is like a magnet to draw people to the Gospel.

Graciousness is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Today’s Opportunity to Grow Toward Christ-Perception

john : November 8, 2011 2:41 pm : John Shirk

JOHN SHIRK – To have perception is to understand or recognize something.  A believing heart is essential for recognizing Jesus for who He is.

On one occasion, Jesus referred to the prophet Isaiah to expose the blindness of a hardened heart.  “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”

With a responsive heart to God’s Word, the Holy Spirit helps us to grow in our understanding of the Scriptures.  He gives us greater perception to go beyond what is happening in the physical realm to also understand what is happening in the spiritual realm.

Faith and understanding are seeds that lead to spiritual growth.  In the parable of the soils, Jesus said that the person who receives the message of God’s Kingdom with hearing and understanding is the one who produces a crop. That is the productive place to be.

Perception is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Today’s Opportunity To Grow Towards Christ-Accountability

john : November 3, 2011 4:47 pm : John Shirk

JOHN SHIRK – With a sense of accountability, we accept responsibility for our actions, and we seek a support system to help us to stay true to our commitments. The Bible tells us that each person will give an account of ourselves to God someday.

The church is God’s design of a support system to help believers in Jesus follow Him faithfully.

Accountability involves encouragement:  First Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Accountability involves motivation:  Hebrews 10:24 urges us to consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

And accountability involves transparency.  James 5:16 urges us to confess our sins to each other and to pray for each other so that healing may take place.  Grace and truth are essential ingredients in an atmosphere for accountability to thrive as God intended.

Accountability is a quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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