JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the practice of communion among followers of Jesus.
It was Jesus who established this practice on the night before He died on the cross. In Luke 22:19, He took bread, gave thanks and broke it. He gave to His disciples, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Then, after supper, He took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
First Corinthians 11:26 says, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” And so, the practice of communion among Jesus’ followers continues until His return.
The practice of communion is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What can we learn from Peter’s denial of Jesus?”
Just before Jesus went to the cross, He gave Peter an insight into what was happening in the spiritual realm. He said in Luke 22:31, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Peter insisted that he would be loyal to Jesus, even if it meant going to prison or death. But Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew Peter. He said, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” And that is exactly what happened.
There are several bullet point lessons of faith we can learn from this exchange.
Be careful of overestimating the strength of our courage. We are capable of doing grievous things the next day we never anticipated.
We are in a spiritual battle, and Satan is our real enemy.
At the same time, Jesus is our best friend, interceding on our behalf. Our failures are not the end of our story when God’s grace turns us back to Him in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What was Pilate’s dilemma?”
Pilate was the governor who questioned Jesus just before He died. After interrogating Jesus, he came to the conclusion that Jesus was not guilty of any crime, and therefore, not worthy of death.
But the religious leaders were determined to put Jesus to death, and applied pressure on Pilate to crucify Jesus.
The turmoil was between what was right and what would please the crowd. Refusing the demands of the religious leaders would threaten peace and order, and perhaps his own reputation with Caesar. So, the decisive moment came in John 19:12 when the crowd said to Pilate, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar.” When Pilate heard this, he made the decision to hand Jesus over to be crucified.
Peer pressure puts us in that place of Pilate’s dilemma, whether to do what is right or to do what pleases the crowd. Pilate wanted to satisfy the crowd. Jesus wanted to please His Heavenly Father.
We can find the courage to resist peer pressure and do what is right in God’s eyes by following in the footsteps of Jesus in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason To Believe is the empty tomb.
Peter Marshall once said, “The stone was rolled away from the door, not to permit Christ to come out, but to enable the disciples to go in.”
The fact that the stone was rolled away gave Jesus’ followers the opportunity to see the folded grave clothes. They saw with their own eyes that the body that had been laid in the tomb three days earlier was now missing. The meaning of the empty tomb can be summed up in the message that the angel gave to the women who came to Jesus’ gravesite on the first day of the week.
He said, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has risen from the dead.”
The empty tomb is not a reason to be filled with fear. It is a reason to explore the claims of the resurrection. It is a reason for celebration, awe and wonder. It is worthy news to share with others.
The meaning of the empty tomb is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the controversy of the cross.
The cross, as a symbol, has been challenged in the courts as to whether or not it is appropriate to display it on public land.
The cross, as a symbol, is often displayed in churches, at gravesites, and on the jewelry some people wear.
But the cross is more than just a symbol to the follower of Jesus. It is a message to be embraced and the way to follow Jesus. The cross was the way that Jesus died, and Jesus is the way for us to have eternal and abundant life.
First Corinthians 1:18 shows us how different kinds of people respond to the cross. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”
The message of the Cross reveals the power of God’s love to reach a world of sinners who needed His grace. It humbles us, and if we receive God’s precious gift of grace, it saves us from our sins.
Just as the Bible says, the message of the cross is a subject of controversy and is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is a Mediator, and how does it apply to the Gospel?”
A mediator is a person who works with conflicting parties to establish peace and reconciliation.
God created us for relationship with Him. However, we declared war on God through our acts of disobedience to God. Our sin shattered the peace that existed between us. Jesus came into the world to take upon Himself the guilt of our sins, so that God’s justice could be poured out on our sin through Christ, and His mercy could be poured out on the inhabitants of the world
First Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.”
Jesus was God’s peace offering. We can have peace with God by accepting Jesus as our Mediator in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason To Believe is the wonder of the cross.
One of the great wonders of the cross is that while Jesus was nailed to the cross, the nails were not the ultimate force that kept Him there.
In Matthew 26, when Jesus was arrested, one of Jesus’ disciples drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. This drew a swift rebuke from Jesus, who said to His disciple, “Put your sword back in its place….” Then He said, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”
Jesus was saying that if He wanted to call off His mission to die for our sins, He could call the heavenly cavalry at any time consisting of 72,000 angels. Jesus did not need nor did He desire His followers to defend Him.
“The wonder of the cross” is that no one took the life of Jesus from Him. He laid it down for us willingly because of His extraordinary love for the sinners of the world.
The wonder of the cross is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the declaration of the Centurion who stood by the cross.
On the day when Jesus died, Matthew 27:54 records the response of a centurion and those nearby. “When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God.’”
There were a number of extraordinary circumstances surrounding the crucifixion. In the middle of the day, darkness came over the land.
At the death of Jesus, there was an earthquake that caused the rocks to split. The curtain of the temple was torn in two. And Matthew’s Gospel records that tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.
Another extraordinary circumstance was the way Jesus prayed for those who were crucifying Him. He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
The Centurion was perceptive to the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ death and concluded that Jesus was not an ordinary man.
The exclamation of the Centurion acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason To Believe is the motivation behind the cross.
In the shame and guilt of our sins, we needed a Savior, and that is where Jesus has stepped into the world at the right time to provide the solution for our greatest need.
John 3:16 reveals the heart of God’s love for the people of the world. That is why He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Love was God’s motivation for sending us Jesus.
First John 4:10 says, “This is love: not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent his Son to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
Because of Jesus’ accomplishment at the cross, the price has been paid. We have a pathway to get out of the prison of our shame through faith in Jesus Christ. He is our bridge to true and lasting peace and freedom, and a fulfilling relationship with God that lasts forever.
The sacrifice of Jesus at the cross is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us 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 power of the cross.
Jesus paid a price for a debt load at Calvary that no amount of money could purchase. That price was His blood that was shed at the cross. His blood was the complete payment for our sins, and the full price for our redemption. The cross was such a monumental event that Jesus’ sacrifice is celebrated in the songs of heaven for eternity.
The value of Jesus’ blood to our freedom and forgiveness is found in places like Ephesians 1:7 which says, “In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
And First John 1:7 says, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
The blood of Jesus, shed for you and me, is the source of power that flows from the cross to reach us with God’s saving grace.
The power of the cross is a reason to believe in God’s good news.