JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Promise of Hope is based on John 15:8.
Jesus said to His disciples, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
Jesus explained to them that their fruitfulness would depend on staying connected to Him. In verse 5, Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Flowing out of our relationship with Jesus will be spiritual fruit that makes a difference in God’s Kingdom for eternity. He invites us into the Great Commission of making and growing disciples for Christ. Without God, we can do nothing; but with God, the ordinary person becomes an extraordinary witness for Christ.
The evidence of spiritual fruit is a promise of hope for those who follow Jesus in the Year of Trust.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Trust, today’s Focus on God examines Jesus as our Great Physician.
According to the words of Jesus in Luke 5:31, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Then He said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Another way of saying that is that Jesus did not come for people who had their “act together”. He came for people who were messed up in sin and desperate for a Savior.
The truth is that no one is spiritually healthy apart from the saving grace of God. Romans 3:10 reminds us that “there is no one who is righteous, not even one.”
Our sin is a fatal disease. Jesus is our only hope for a cure. This is why He came to the world. This is why He went to banquets and spent time with sinners. Doctors can treat our physical ailments for a season, but Jesus is the only doctor who can take away our sin.
Knowing Jesus as our Great Physician is a reason to trust in God for today and forever.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Trust, today’s Focus on God examines His watchfulness.
According to Second Chronicles 16:9, “the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
His vision is vast and His vision is perceptive. He is keenly aware of those who are fully committed to Him. He is also able to discern our motives behind our actions. Where God sees authentic commitment, He provides encouragement for our faith to keep pressing on in dedication and service.
Through eyes of faith, His view of us matters, and makes a difference in our words, actions, and attitudes.
The watchfulness of God is a reason to trust in God for today and forever.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Promise of Hope is based on Matthew 5:9.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
When we serve as a peacemaker, we are reflecting the mission of Jesus, who came as a Mediator between God and mankind.
There are various forms of peacemaking that are valuable, such as conflict resolution, or being an influence to bring peace between nations. But the ultimate peacemaking mission is evangelism, where we serve as ambassadors for Christ, imploring people in this world to be reconciled to God. This is what Jesus calls His followers to do until the end of the age.
Being identified as a child of God is a promise of hope for those who follow Jesus in the Year of Trust.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Trust, today’s Focus on God examines His creation of the stars.
According to Isaiah 40, verse 26, the Holy One invites us to probe and ponder this thought: “Lift your eyes to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”
Astronomers estimate that there are at least 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone. The world population clock estimates close to 7.5 billion people living on the earth right now. So, if God can keep track of all the stars He has made, it stands to reason that He won’t lose track of the people He has made either. The point being made in Isaiah 40 is that God is our Creator. He will not grow weary or tired. No one can fathom His understanding. He holds the universe and the world in His hands. He will not let go of those who are captured in the grip of His grace.
God’s creation of the stars is a reason to trust in God for today and forever.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Trust, today’s Focus on God examines His power as a miracle worker.
According to Psalm 77:14, God is a miracle-worker. “You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.”
The Christian faith is built on miracles, such as the Creation of the world, the virgin birth of Jesus, the miracle of His love demonstrated at the cross, and the raising of Jesus from the dead three days later.
There is another miracle worth noting-the miracle of God’s love to draw someone to faith in Jesus and to change a heart. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!”
God’s power as a miracle worker is a reason to trust in God for today and forever.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Promise of Hope is based on Hebrews 13:8.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
This is a comforting verse for the follower of Christ, because it means that the name of Jesus is always superior to all other names, the throne of Jesus will never be upended, and the love of Jesus will never run dry. His truth is not bending to the changing values of the culture. His character does not change with the passage of time because there is no need for growth or improvement. Jesus is Lord, and that fact will never change. The sacrifice He made for our sins 2,000 years ago still has the power to forgive sins and transform our lives.
He is the constant source of help for His people. We find evidence of that in the preceding verses. In verse 5, God said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
The constant presence of Jesus is a promise of hope for those who follow Jesus in the Year of Trust.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Trust, today’s Focus on God examines His faithfulness as a Promise-keeper.
According to Second Corinthians 1:20, “No matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
A consistent promise keeper is faithful, having the goodness to follow through with stated intentions, and having the strength to make it happen, despite facing opposition that wants to thwart those purposes. Because these are the qualities of God, His promises are trustworthy and true.
Before Joshua died, he said to the Israelites, “Not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed.”
God’s faithfulness as a promise keeper is a reason to trust in God for today and forever.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the day of Christ’s birth.
Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Every day is a gift for us to celebrate. But there is a particular day that is especially worth noting as a day of celebration.
The surrounding verses include references to Christ. Verse 22 talks about the stone that the builders rejected becoming the capstone. The Apostle Peter applied this verse to Jesus in his writings. And verse 26 was applied to Christ at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.”
The coming of Christ into the world is a day to celebrate and is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK -Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “Why is the virgin birth of Jesus so important?”
In the Old Testament, Isaiah prophesied that the virgin would be with child, and in Matthew chapter 1, that prophecy became reality at the birth of Jesus.
First, the virgin birth is significant because it is a miracle. Jesus was not born by ordinary means. His birth was the result of Divine Intervention.
Secondly, the virgin birth is significant because it highlights the fact that Jesus was not born with a sinful nature. The angel said to Mary “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
This fact set Jesus apart from every other human being. He knew what it was like to be human, but He did not sin. This made Him a worthy sacrifice for our sins when He went to the cross.
The virgin birth reveals Jesus to be the Son of God and the Savior of the world in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is the true meaning of Christmas?”
There are many possible influences that can take our attention away from the true meaning. Too much activity can lead to stress during the holiday season. Too much shopping can lead us to debt after the holiday season.
The true meaning of Christmas is marked by a special, sacred gift that came from heaven to earth about 2,000 years ago-a child born in a manger who was born to save God’s people from their sins.
The true meaning of Christmas can be found in the proclamation of the angel to the shepherds when Jesus was born. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
This focus point will make our celebration of Christmas meaningful during this holiday season in the Year of Exploration.