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John Shirk

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Life Application Truth-Praising God In Various Situations

john : March 27, 2012 9:03 am : John Shirk, Staff Pages

JOHN SHIRK – From Judges 5:3:

“Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers! I will sing to the LORD, I will sing; I will make music to the LORD, the God of Israel.”

Deborah and Barak sang this song following a victory over one of Israel’s oppressive enemies. Throughout history, God’s people have lifted up their voices of praise in a variety of situations, not just in victory.

In grief, Job said, “the LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”

In a time of threatening tension, King Jehoshaphat prayed, “Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.” And then, with humble honesty, he said, “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”

And Paul and Silas were in prison, having a midnight hymn sing. Their bodies were in chains, but their spirits were free.  In the various seasons of life, through the mountains and the valleys, we can remain hopeful with songs of praise.

Praise from a thankful heart is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Life Application Truth-Seek Good Not Evil

john : March 23, 2012 5:09 pm : John Shirk, Staff Pages

JOHN SHIRK – From Amos 5:14.

“Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.”

The people were taught to hate evil, love good, and maintain justice in the courts. We take great comfort in the Scriptures that say, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  How do we know that God is on our side? One way of learning the answer to that question is to assess where our focus point is.  Are we seeking the good that God intends for us to pursue? Or are we focused on selfish ambitions that seek to honor ourselves first.  God is stronger than our foes, so if He is for us, then we are in a holy alliance that cannot be overpowered.

But not everyone is on God’s side.

First Peter 5:5 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” If pride is in the way of our relationship with God, we can confess it to God and ask Him to take our lives in a new direction that loves what He loves and hates what He hates.

Loving what is good in the eyes of God is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Life Application Truth-Perseverance through Persecution

john : March 22, 2012 8:55 am : John Shirk, Staff Pages

JOHN SHIRK – From First Peter 2:19.

“For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.”

This letter was being written to persecuted Christians, and would have brought comfort and encouragement to those who were suffering for their faith. Interestingly, Peter did not call these faithful Christians to rise up and rebel against authority. Instead, he called them to honor the king and submit to authority.  He did not call them to water down their testimony, but urged them to set apart Christ as Lord and always be prepared to give the reason for their hope.

Peter drew their attention to Jesus, who suffered for them, and left an example for them of how to deal with persecution. “When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

If you ever get into a situation where someone makes fun of you for following Jesus or no longer wants to be your friend because of your faith, that is a form of persecution, and that becomes a moment when you more closely identify with Christ, who suffered for you

Perseverance through persecution is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Life Application Truth-The Freeing Effect of Liberating Love

john : March 20, 2012 9:43 am : John Shirk, Staff Pages

JOHN SHIRK – From Genesis 14:14.

“When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan.”

The relative that Abram sought to rescue was Lot, who had been taken captive by four kings who attacked Sodom, where Lot was living. Abram’s pursuit of Lot led to a rescue attempt that succeeded. His rescue effort says something important to us about the nature of love. Love seeks to protect. If someone we love is in trouble, we will run to the rescue, even if that means risking personal security to help them.  Love is not passive, but forms a plan to take action to release our loved ones from anything that holds them captive. This is what Abram did.  This is also what Jesus did when He saw our captivity to sin. He was not passive. He ran to the rescue. He risked personal security for our benefit. His rescue plan succeeded at the cross and empty grave. There was no plan B. Jesus made the difference. His love never fails.

Release from sin’s captivity is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Life Application Truth-Public Proclamation of Praise

john : March 14, 2012 3:10 pm : John Shirk, Staff Pages

JOHN SHIRK – From Psalm 68, verses 34  and 35-

“Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the skies. You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!”

What are the qualities of God that cause you to marvel?  While it is true that Jesus came in the flesh and made His dwelling among us, it is also true that He is our Creator.  Yes, He shared in our humanity, but He is also exalted in His divinity. He is merciful and mighty. He displays His glory in the heavens. He displayed His love for us at the cross.  He is greater than us, and He is good to us.

Just as God reveals to us the various ways in which He is wonderful, we can experience the joy of remembering His awesomeness, and telling others why He is worthy of our praise.

Being God’s worshippers and witnesses are vital signs of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Life Application Truth-Lessons from the farm

john : March 12, 2012 5:15 pm : John Shirk, Staff Pages

JOHN SHIRK – From Ecclesiastes 11, verses 4 to 6.

“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”

This is a passage of Scripture that promotes both hard work and trust in God. The farmer is an excellent example of someone who works hard to sow seed at the proper time, and also depends on God to bring the rain so that their crop might grow.  There are life principles we can learn from this scenario.

1)  Don’t just sit back and watch life go by. Get involved and participate. Sow some seeds of faith.

2)  Have a plan, but be flexible, and be ready to make adjustments.

3)  Patience is a virtue. Let God produce your seeds into fruitful results.

4)  Take joy in your labor. It will provide the incentive to work through the challenges and obstacles of a given task.

The planting of seeds to produce a spiritual crop is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Life Application Truth-Two Very Different Lamps

john : March 9, 2012 9:13 am : John Shirk, Staff Pages

JOHN SHIRK – From Proverbs 21, verse 4.

Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin!

There are things that God hates, and one of those things, according to Proverbs 6 is “haughty eyes.”

Haughty eyes can be described as an arrogant look. This appearance reflects a proud heart, which guides them in their choices and attitudes.  A proud heart has a superiority complex, sensing that they are better than other people, and even daring to consider their own way better than God’s way.  Another Proverb tells us that there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Using human reasoning without seeking Godly wisdom has dangerous consequences. The holy alternative is a humble heart that acknowledges Jesus as Lord. The follower of God uses a different lamp for direction. Psalm 119, verse 105 says to God, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  The humble heart is teachable, and is receptive to God’s grace.

Humility is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Life Application Truth-God Knows Everything About Us

john : March 6, 2012 3:47 pm : John Shirk, Staff Pages

JOHN SHIRK – From Psalm 139, verses 9 and 10.

“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

This chapter emphasizes the way that God knows the details of our lives.  There is no place where we can go where He does not notice us or is able to find us. Jonah found that out when he tried to run from God. Yet, the Lord worked through the stormy sea to bring him back to where he needed to be.

God’s surveillance system may cause the Jonah’s of this world to be nervous, but if we follow after God’s own heart as David did, this is a comforting thought. God knows us. He loves us. He is an ever-present help in times of trouble. The implication of this verse is that we don’t have to fear the presence of God if our faith is in Jesus. Second Chronicles 16:9 says that “the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

A yearning for God’s presence is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Life Application Truth-Proclamation and Service for God’s Glory

john : March 5, 2012 2:20 pm : John Shirk, Staff Pages

JOHN SHIRK – From Second Corinthians 4:5.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”

Great spiritual leaders are aware of their role in God’s Kingdom.  The Apostle Paul’s motives were right.  The reason that he preached was to proclaim Jesus as Lord. He did not do it for the applause of the crowd.  He did not do it with any selfish agendas.  In fact, his role as an apostle of the early church was carried out with great personal sacrifice. He spent time in prison. He was mistreated, and eventually died as a martyr for the Gospel.

As Paul was driven by the Gospel to preach, so he was driven by the Gospel to serve. He served by preaching, seeking financial support for churches in need, follow-up ministry, and prayer for the saints.  He also served as a mentor to younger leaders in the church like Timothy and Titus. These are some examples of ways that we can serve others in the body of Christ today. The focus of our activity is meant to draw people to Christ, not ourselves.

Proclaiming the Gospel and acts of service are vital signs of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.

John Shirk

john@wjtl.com

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Life Application Truth-Walking In The Light

john : March 2, 2012 2:53 pm : John Shirk, Staff Pages

JOHN SHIRK – From John 8, verse 12.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

One implication of walking in the light is that we have clear direction.  Jesus said in John 12 that the man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going.  That may seem to be an obvious statement, but in the spiritual realm, that means that if we are not following Jesus, we are not clear about our purpose or destiny. Those perspectives are made clear when we follow Jesus. Life’s purpose becomes the glory of God and life’s destiny is a home in heaven with the Lord.

Jesus invites us to follow Him, and experience the light of His goodness and love. Life won’t always be a walk in the park, but with Jesus leading the way, neither will it be a walk in the dark.

The reflection of God’s light is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.

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