JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is the meaning of Jehovah Jireh?”
This name for God appears on Mount Moriah as Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar. Just in time, the angel of the LORD intervened, drawing Abraham’s attention to a ram in a thicket caught by its horns. Isaac’s life was spared.
According to Genesis 22:14, Abraham called that place “The LORD will provide.” The King James Version tells us that Abraham called the name of the place “Jehovah Jireh”.
The ram can be seen as a foreshadow of Jesus. Just as the ram became the substitute sacrifice for Isaac, Jesus became the substitute sacrifice for us. He took our place by absorbing the punishment of our sin on the cross. As a result, we are set free by the shedding of His blood for our sins.
God has provided a precious gift for us in the form of Jesus, and by faith, we can accept His provision for eternal life in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK-Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is the meaning of “El Shaddai?”
This reference to God first appears in Genesis 17:1, where the LORD identifies Himself to Abram this way: “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.”
This refers to the might and self-sufficiency of God’s character. This name for God also refers to Him as our source of blessing. “El Shaddai” was how God revealed Himself to Abram when he was 99 years old. In that conversation, God assured Abram that He would fulfill His promise to him and greatly increase his number through his descendants.
Michael Card wrote a song called “El Shaddai” which became widely known through the recording by Amy Grant. Some of the lyrics say, “Through your love and through the ram, You saved the son of Abraham. Through the power of Your hand, turned the sea into dry land.”
The implication of El Shaddai is that God is completely sufficient and totally competent to do what He says He will do. He is our Provider and Sustainer, and because of that, we can trust His Word in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is broken circumstances.
How might God use our broken circumstances to bring us to the point of faith?
Consider the example of the prodigal son in Luke 15. He squandered his wealth on wild living. For a season, he feasted on what he wanted. But it was just for a season. Then, it was gone. And he was left with an empty stomach, an empty wallet, and an empty soul. He was broken, and humbled. That is what broken circumstances will do in our lives. They will humble us. This brings us to a critical crossroads: whether to give up, try to dig out ourselves, or reach out for help.
The prodigal son came to his senses with this thought, “I will set out and go back to my father and say to him, ‘I am no longer worthy to be called your son, make me like one of your hired men.’” So he got up and went to his father. His father’s response? He was filled with compassion for his son. He ran to him and kissed him.
God welcomes us when we return to the place where we belong-His arms of grace.
The broken circumstances of our lives become opportunities for us to recognize our need for Jesus and are reasons to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What does it mean when Jesus said to Paul, ‘It is hard for you to kick against the goads?’”
The phrase “kicking against the goads” was a common expression in Bible times, referring to the practice of farmers goading their oxen in the fields.
A goad is defined as a spiked stick used for driving cattle or oxen.
According to Chuck Swindoll, there were occasions when an ox would kick at the goad. When this happened, the goad would stab into the flesh of its leg and cause greater pain.
What Jesus was saying to Paul before his conversion was that by resisting Jesus, Paul was only hurting himself.
The Holy Spirit says in Hebrews 3:7, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
After that encounter, Paul stopped resisting Jesus and started to serve Him. His hardened heart against Christ was made tender as he received God’s love. The message that Jesus had for Paul urges us to be responsive to His promptings in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason To Believe is spiritual gifts.
Believers in Christ receive spiritual gifts from God. These are opportunities of service to glorify God. He is working through spiritual gifts among His followers to build the church and spread the Gospel throughout the world.
God gives us spiritual gifts to exercise them, not to stuff them into a dark corner where no one can see them.
First Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”
The exercise of our spiritual gifts glorifies God 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 wisdom of the Ten Commandments.
One of the reasons we have traffic patterns is because of traffic laws. If all motorists completely threw the rules of the road out the window, there would be a breakdown of order.
When the Israelites neglected the Ten Commandments, the nation began to decline. We see this in Hosea 4:1 and 2, where the prophet described their moral vacuum this way: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away.” The breaking of God’s commands was symptomatic of a society that pushed God away from them.
The Ten Commandments are built on the law of love. Jesus is the fullest expression of love. Following Jesus will move us to honor God’s commands and to share His love with others.
The wisdom of the Ten Commandments is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “How did Jesus define greatness?”
An argument developed among Jesus’ disciples on the question, “Who was the greatest?”
Whenever people start asking this kind of question, either privately or out in the open, you can anticipate arguing and dissension to follow.
Jesus used this argument as a teachable moment. He said to them in Mark 9:35, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last and the servant of all.”
Jesus defined greatness in terms of serving others. He encourages us to think in terms of giving, generosity, sacrifice, and love. Jesus is the greatest of all, and He set an example of service and sacrifice for us to follow. He said in Matthew 9:26, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
According to Jesus, service is the pathway to greatness in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason To Believe is the details of Isaiah 53.
Hundreds of years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the prophet Isaiah wrote specific details that would be fulfilled in Jesus’ life.
Verse 3 points out that He would be despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.
Verse 5 says He was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities.
Verse 9 says that He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in His death.
Verse 11 says “after the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied.”
Verse 11 also says “By his knowledge, my righteous servant will justify many.”
In Isaiah 53, we see references to Jesus rejection, His crucifixion, resurrection, and His qualification to release us from the guilt of our sins.
The details of Isaiah 53 concerning Jesus are reasons to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What are the qualities of a nation blessed by God?”
The theme of this year’s National Day of Prayer is “Wake Up America”, emphasizing our need corporately and personally to return to God in reverence for His Holy Name.
There are Scriptures that give us insight into how a nation can return to God and receive His blessing.
The most notable is Second Chronicles 7:14, where the LORD says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
In the 1830’s a French historian traveled to America to discover what made America great. He wrote down this observation: “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
The wisdom of Proverbs 14:34 is still relevant today. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” These are some Biblical principles to remember as we pray for our nation’s leaders and communities in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “Why does God allow suffering in the world?”
This is a big question that deserves some attention, because so many people ask it out loud or ponder it in their hearts.
Suffering started in the world after sin entered the human race. This was the result of a choice that Adam and Eve made, which led to the reality of physical death, conflict between people, pain during child birth, frustration from work, and shame, to name a few. God made Adam and Eve with the dignity to have the freedom to make choices. When they disregarded God’s Word and ate from the forbidden fruit, pain and suffering followed.
Ever since, our world has been broken. We live with the consequences of Adam and Eve’s decision.
The good news is that God had a plan to redeem us from the curse of sin. He sent Jesus, who suffered extreme pain at the cross, and then rose from the dead. He can sympathize with our pain, and He knows how to take us beyond it. He is preparing a place for His followers in heaven, where tears, pain, sin and death will not be found.
When it comes to suffering, there are no easy answers, but the presence of suffering calls for the compassion of Christ to be expressed through His followers in the Year of Exploration.