JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “When Jesus went to the cross, what was the joy that was set before Him?”
Hebrews 12:2 urges us to fix our eyes on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Just before Jesus died, we see many quotes, where Jesus is looking past His suffering to the glory that would follow. He said to His disciples, “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice.”
Perhaps the most insightful statement revealing the joy that was set before Him came when He prayed to the Father just before His death. Jesus prayed in John 17:24, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”
The cross was the only way this holy desire could become reality. By way of the cross, we have a pathway to heavenly citizenship, whereby we can be in His presence and enjoy His glory forever.
By faith, the joy that was set before Jesus becomes our greatest hope in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the parables taught by Jesus.
Jesus fulfilled many prophecies in the Old Testament. One of them comes from Psalm 78:2, which says, “I will open my mouth in parables.” In the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus fulfilled these words when He spoke in parables.
These parables were stories that Jesus told to describe what God’s kingdom is like. To the average person, these were interesting stories. To the person who had understanding, these parables were more than just interesting stories. They reflected important truths about the nature of God’s Kingdom.
In Matthew 13, Jesus told His disciples why he taught the people in parables. He said to them, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.” The parables were structured in such a way that His followers could understand them, because they accepted His words. But to the hearts that were calloused, they heard, but did not understand. Yet, if their hearts were open to His message, they would understand and turn to God for the healing of their souls.
Each parable taught by Jesus is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the birth of the nation of Israel.
The story of the Bible reveals certain events that were humanly impossible. One example is the virgin birth of Jesus. Another example would be His resurrection from the dead. Yet another example would be the birth of Israel.
In Genesis 12, the call came to Abram, who would later be called Abraham, to leave his country and his people, and go to the land that the Lord would show him. The LORD said to him, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you.” Later, God told him, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” That statement is linked to the Gospel in Galatians 3:8, showing us that Jesus would be the ultimate fulfillment of the blessing that came through Abraham’s descendants, specifically, the nation of Israel.
Sarah, his wife, was beyond childbearing years. Yet, by God’s intervention, she became pregnant and gave birth to a son named Isaac. That was how the birth of Israel happened, which sends us the message, “what is impossible with man is possible with God.”
The birth of the nation of Israel is a reason to believe in God’s Good News.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What does the Bible say about going into debt?”
Romans 13:8 gives us this instruction: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
While God’s Word does not forbid going into debt, it stresses the responsibility to pay back what we owe. So, we should not go into debt without a plan to get out of debt.
One debt that will always remain outstanding is the debt to love one another because there is always more to give.
Another debt that is impossible for us to pay back in full is the sinful actions that we have committed, whether in word, thought, or deed. But where we have fallen short, God has provided a payment plan for us through the blood of Jesus, which was shed on the cross. I Peter 1:18 tells us that we are redeemed, not by the payment of silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.
Through faith in Jesus, we are set free from the debt of sin and receive the credit of righteousness in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason To Believe is the purpose we have in God’s plan.
Psalm 138:8 says that “the LORD will fulfill his purpose for me.”
Not everyone who loves God may have the exact same mission field or the same ministry in the local church, but we do have the same purpose. That purpose is to know God and to glorify God, so that the name of Jesus will be famous throughout the earth.
Colossians 1:16 says that we were “made by Him and for Him.” Since God has given us breath, He has a plan for our lives. Therefore, we have meaningful purpose.
What He begins in us, He is able to complete. We are motivated by the love of God to wake up each new day and commit our lives to His plan. A good prayer to say to God each morning is “Lord, have your way in me today. Guide me in Your footsteps. Give me a willing heart to follow Your clear directive, and give me a discerning heart when I am not sure about where you are directing me. Amen.”
Our purpose in Christ is a reason to believe in God’s Good News.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason To Believe is the miracles of Jesus.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus performed various types of miracles that set captives free, healed the sick, raised the dead, and fed the hungry. He opened the eyes of the blind, and opened the ears of the deaf, and opened the mouths of those unable to speak.
If we read the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we will see at least 37 miracles of Jesus. John 20:31 says, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Indeed, there are many more miracles. Every soul converted to Christ becomes a living miracle of a life touched by God’s grace.
The miracles of Jesus are reasons to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A segment explores the question, “What does it mean to live with godly integrity?”
The definition of integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Having integrity does not mean moral perfection. David was a king with godly integrity.
Psalm 78:72 says, “David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” This was written about him, even though he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and conspired to have her husband killed.
What he did when confronted about his sin is extremely important to his integrity. He confessed his sin to God and asked for a willing spirit to change course and do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.
So, living with godly integrity means being committed to God’s principles in the Bible, being honest about our weaknesses, and being humble enough to confess our sins to God when our actions have wandered from our beliefs.
Proverbs 11:3 says, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” Godly integrity is a walk with Jesus in the light of His grace and truth in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A segment explores the question, “What is the purpose of accountability?”
According to Romans 14:12, “Each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” This verse shows that ultimately we are accountable to God, and a day is coming when our lives will be evaluated in the light of His wisdom.
With the presence of temptation in our world, we are wise to seek out a trusted person who can help us keep our commitments to God. That is the purpose of accountability in the church-to help each other keep our commitments to God. Accountability is healthy in the context of a support structure, rather than an interrogation of 20 questions. It is designed to encourage each other, pray for each other, and confess sins to each other when there is something hindering our walk with Christ.
Hebrews 10:24 urges us to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. And James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that we might be healed.
Accountability relationships help us to move forward in faithful devotion to Jesus in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the gift of understanding.
Without God’s revelation of the Gospel, we would not be prepared to understand the mystery of His love.
After Jesus died and rose from the dead, He spent some time with the disciples. Luke 24:45 records that Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
Likewise, in the book of Acts, there was a woman named Lydia who met Paul the Apostle. She was receptive to the truth. And the Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.
When it comes to hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ, it is good to be open-minded. It will give us understanding of God’s love for us and open our heart to believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins.
First John 5:20 says, “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.”
The gift of understanding is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is fasting and what is the purpose of fasting?”
Fasting is a commitment to go without food for a period of time for spiritual purposes. Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert. Members of the early church fasted and worshiped God before sending out Barnabas and Paul for the Lord’s work.
In the book of Joel, the LORD called for His people to return to Him with all their heart, with fasting, weeping and mourning. So, fasting is a sign of brokenness before God and a reflection of our serious commitment to God.
Fasting sometimes turns us to God for a spiritual breakthrough. Pastor David Mathis of Cities Church in Minneapolis writes, “Christian fasting turns its attention to Jesus or some great cause of his in the world….whether it’s fighting against some sin, or pleading for someone’s salvation, or for the cause of the unborn, or longing for a greater taste of Jesus.”
In Isaiah 58:6, the LORD says, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to see the oppressed free and break every yoke?”
God can work through the fasting and prayer of His people to tear down spiritual strongholds and build up our faith in the Year of Exploration.