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.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the faith of Jesus’ half-brothers.
There is a noticeable change in the attitude of family members toward Jesus as His ministry unfolds. Earlier, in Jesus’ earthly ministry, John 7:5 records that “even his own brothers did not believe in him.”
But that changed after the resurrection. First Corinthians 15:7 records that after Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to various people, including James, referring to His half-brother. James became an influential leader in the church in the book of Acts, and wrote the book of James.
Another brother who came to believe in Jesus is Jude. He is listed in Jesus’ family in Matthew 13. He also wrote one of the last books in the New Testament. Early in his book, he describes himself as the brother of James and a servant of Jesus Christ.
The transformation of Jesus’ half-brothers from unbelief to faith is a reason to believe in God’s Good News.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What were some tangible differences in Paul’s life after he converted to Christ?”
The conversion of the Apostle Paul to Jesus Christ was one of the more dramatic conversions in the whole Bible.
He was on his way to Damascus on a mission to persecute Christians, but as he was arriving, he became a follower of Jesus Christ. That changed everything regarding his purpose. Instead of wanting to destroy the church, he wanted to bless the church and build it up in the faith.
Where he once pursued legalistic religion, he saw the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ as his Lord.
Where he once took pride in his own righteousness, he was learning to gain the righteousness of Christ built on faith.
And his attitude changed. In Titus 3:3 he said, “At one time, we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”
Paul’s transformation shows us that through Christ, our priorities and attitudes have a way of changing in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason To Believe is the city of Jerusalem.
In the headlines, it is the subject of controversy today. In the Bible, it is described as the holy city. Jerusalem means “City of Peace.”
According to Ezekiel 5:5, the LORD says, “This is Jerusalem, which I have set in the center of the nations, with countries all around her.”
Jerusalem is the city where the temple stood as a place of worship.
Jerusalem is the city where Jesus entered to present Himself as a gentle king, riding on a donkey.
Jerusalem is the city where Jesus was tried and condemned to death. He would die just outside the holy city as a sacrifice for our sins.
Jerusalem is the place where the Holy Spirit came in power on the early church.
Jerusalem was the launching point for the Gospel to spread around the world.
And according to Jeremiah 3:17, Jerusalem will be called “The Throne of the LORD.”
The significant events surrounding the city of Jerusalem reveals that God’s redemptive plan is central to our hope for lasting peace and is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s reason to believe is the existence of the heavens and the earth.
Jeremiah 32:17 records this prayer from the prophet: “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”
The evidence of nature and the universe says something to us about the nature of a universal God. His great power brought the things we see around us into existence.
The book of Hebrews describes the universe being formed at God’s command. By faith, we understand that this is how the heavens and the earth were created. And as we examine the prayer of Jeremiah, we see that if God is able to make this world in alignment to the sun in such a way that human life is sustainable, nothing is too hard for Him.
And if He is able to create more than 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, the Milky Way, then nothing is too hard for Him.
And if He is able to create human beings to reflect His glory, then nothing is too hard for Him. He can move us to stand in awe of the might and majesty of His outstretched arm to create what He has commanded.
The existence of the heavens and the earth are reasons to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason To Believe is the lasting legacy of those who were faithful to God.
We have the record of the heroes of faith in the Old Testament in Hebrews, chapter 11 in the form of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and many more. Their examples all have something to say to us about living out a faith that gets God’s attention. Their witness for God continues to speak today.
Then there are other believers, not mentioned in the Bible, but who have made their mark on history-St. Patrick, St. Augustine, Dwight Moody, C.S. Lewis, Mother Teresa, Jim Elliot, and Billy Graham, just to name a few. God raised them to be powerful influences for the Gospel in various ways.
If you follow Jesus, you have a legacy too that could influence many souls, even after you die. Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
The lasting legacy of faith among God’s followers is a reason to believe in God’s Good News.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is Great Comebacks.
One of the most astonishing comebacks in football happened in the 1993 AFC Wild Card Game. The Buffalo Bills fell behind the Houston Oilers 35 to 3 in the second half. But backup quarterback Frank Reich rallied his team to an unforgettable comeback that left his team victorious at the final whistle-41 to 38.
That was an example of a team that recovered after they were down.
The Gospel is the story of a Savior who revived after He was dead. It is the greatest comeback of all time. This comeback reminds us that we are never in a hopeless place as long as we live with the resurrection power of Jesus. In Revelation 1:18, Jesus says, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!”
And First Corinthians 15:57 is a message to followers of Jesus: “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The greatest comeback of all time is a reason to believe in God’s good news.