JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the increase of knowledge.
A transition has been underway in society, taking us from the industrial age to the information age, ever since the invention of the computer.
In the last century, we have seen tremendous advancements in transportation, communication, and medical breakthroughs. Daniel 12:4 pointed to a day when people would go here and there to increase knowledge.
But General Omar Bradley has made this observation about our times: “We have grasped the mystery of the atom and neglected the Sermon on the Mount…Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.”
There is a type of knowledge that we need beyond facts-and that is the knowledge of the truth-knowing Jesus Christ with a mind and heart that embraces Him as Savior and Lord. Second Peter 3:18 urges us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is the kind of knowledge that will help us use technology constructively, and live out our faith productively.
The increase of knowledge in the grace of the Lord 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 shuddering of demons in the presence of Jesus.
In Matthew 8:29. Jesus encountered two demon-possessed men. They were so violent, no one passed their way. As they encountered Jesus, they said, “What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
These demons recognized Jesus as the Son of God, and they also knew that there is an appointed time when He will destroy them and the evil that they promote. These demons possessed men, but they shuddered in the presence of Jesus.
This says something to us about our need to welcome the presence of Jesus as Savior and Lord. He has the power to deliver us from evil.
James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.” They might believe in God’s existence, but they are certainly not on God’s side, and they tremble at the thought of the appointed time when God makes everything new.
The shuddering of demons in the presence of Jesus is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is the key to knowing the will of God?”
We might think that the key to knowing God’s will is more information, but according to Romans 12, verses 1 through 3, the key to knowing God’s will is through transformation, and transformation happens when we offer ourselves to God in a spirit of worship.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Responding to God’s mercy with a grateful heart is the starting place for opening our lives to knowing the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is Feast of Passover.
This Jewish feast continues to be observed year after year to this very day celebrating deliverance from slavery. Moses was sent by God as a messenger to tell Egypt’s powerful leader Pharoah, “Let my people go.” Pharoah resisted Moses’ message time after time, despite many plagues on his land.
The final plague was what led to Pharoah’s change of mind, and Israel’s deliverance from slavery. The Israelites were told to sacrifice the Passover lamb without defect and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. The firstborn of the family in that house would be protected when the LORD came to strike down all the firstborn in Egypt.
The LORD gave the Israelites instructions to observe Passover as a lasting ordinance.
Followers of Jesus see Jesus as the fulfillment of Passover. He was unblemished. His blood is precious, and qualifies as an atonement for our sins, to deliver us from slavery to sin, and from spiritual death. First Corinthians 5:7 says “Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.”
Passover is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the season of spring.
Spring brings warmer temperatures, melting snow, blooming flowers, and a greener landscape. The Song of Solomon describes the spring season like this: “See! The winter is past. The rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.”
Have you noticed the birds chirping with songs of delight?
Spring is a season of new life and so much growth. These dimensions of spring become realities for the person who trusts in the Lord.
Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here.”
Spring reminds us of the new life found in Jesus Christ and the nourishing effect of His grace on our soul.
The season of spring is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the sunrise.
We do not wonder if the sun will rise in the morning or ponder which hour it will appear over the eastern horizon. We might wonder if we will arise on time, but we don’t question the timing of the sunrise.
God’s faithfulness is compared to a daily sunrise. Yes, we might have questions about our own faithfulness at times, but God’s faithfulness is a quality that we can depend on. As we look to God and come under His influence, He will enable us to become more faithful.
Lamentations 3:22 gives us this reason not just to believe in God, but to also have hope in Him. “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “
Just like the sunrise, the LORD is faithful. He sent Jesus to the world at just the right time when we needed a Savior. And when the time is right, Jesus will appear again to gather His followers into His heavenly kingdom.
The faithful appearance of the sunrise is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “How can I recognize when God is speaking to me?”
Exodus 33:11 records that the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.
Does God speak audibly to His servants today? While this form of communication is possible, this is not the most common way that God speaks to His followers today. We have something that the Old Testament prophets and servants did not have. We have access to the inspired word of God in the Bible. That is an important resource where we can turn to hear from God.
God does also guide us through the opportunities of our circumstances. He will sometimes place burdens on our heart so that we are motivated to take a stand for the Lord and against injustice. God may speak to us through the counsel of a friend. God has given people dreams and visions to bring them to faith in Christ or to start ministries that touch people’s lives. What a pastor says on a Sunday morning might be a timely word for us.
If we hear a message that directly contradicts what God reveals in the Bible, we can be confident that the message is not from God. Psalm 25:14 says, “The Lord’s loyal followers receive his guidance.”
Knowing Jesus, learning to trust Him, and growing in our understanding of the Bible are important pursuits for being able to recognize the voice of God in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is bread.
Bread is a type of food that sustains our strength. Having human bodies, we need food to live. And Jesus encourages us to pray for our Heavenly Father to give us our daily bread.
In the days of Moses, the Israelites received manna from heaven. It would appear every morning except the Sabbath day. God would provide for their needs in this way, but they were not supposed to take more than they needed.
Bread is a symbol of what we need-no more, no less. Perhaps that is why Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” We need all the spiritual food that Jesus has to offer for the strength to live the Christian life, abundantly and eternally. Anything less would be insufficient. Anything apart from Jesus would be baggage.
Jesus said in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” His grace is the spiritual nutrition that truly satisfies our hunger and thirst for righteousness.
The bread of life is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is the purpose of encouragement?”
Barnabas was a believer in the Lord known for his encouragement. When others were skeptical about the authentic conversion of the Apostle Paul, Barnabas served as a bridge to help him gain acceptance in the church. He explained to the apostles how the Lord had transformed his life.
On another occasion, Barnabas went to a place called Antioch, where he saw the evidence of God’s grace in people’s lives. Acts 11:23 records that he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord.
Encouragement offers someone support, confidence and hope. In the Christian context, it builds up faith in the Lord and spurs God’s followers to a life of love and good deeds. When we see God at work in someone’s life, that is an opportunity to point out specifically how God is moving in that person for redemptive purposes. With words of encouragement, we can motivate them to continue living for Jesus with a devoted heart in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the reality of earthquakes.
The Bible reveals that earthquakes have struck at strategic times in history. There was an earthquake on the day when Jesus died on a cross. There was also a violent earthquake on the morning that He rose from the dead. Zechariah 14 records there will be an earthquake at the time of Christ’s return. Jesus talked about the increase of earthquakes in various places as a sign of the end of the age.
As we see earthquakes happen in the world, we are reminded that physical life is fragile, our things in this world are breakable, and disasters can strike with sudden impact. But there is a place where security can be found for our soul.
In Hebrews 12:26, the Lord promises, “Once more, I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens. The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken-that is, created things.”
Verse 28 says, “Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so, worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”
The Unshakeable Nature of God’s Kingdom in a climate of earthquakes is a reason to believe in God’s good news.