JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason To Believe is how the Gospel changes lives.
If you have been touched by the grace of God, it is quite likely that you can recall specific ways you changed after coming to faith in Jesus-attitudes, behavior, or priorities.
The disciples became followers of Jesus and would later be appointed as leaders of the early church.
After an encounter with Jesus, the heart of Zacchaeus changed from being greedy to being generous.
A jailer put his faith in Jesus and was changed from being suicidal to being filled with joy.
God’s grace changes people’s lives in various ways, but one common thread is that in whatever way the person changes, it results in bringing glory to God.
One example of that is how Christians responded to reports of the Apostle Paul’s conversion. Galatians 1:23 says, “They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they praised God because of me.”
“Changed lives” reveal the power of the Gospel and is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from James 5:19 and 20.
“My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
The Gospel is a message of restoration. We have kept God at an arm’s length by our sinfulness, but God pursues us to save us from our sins and restore us to Him. God’s grace is the remedy for this separation.
Whenever we see someone wander from God, that is our opportunity to reach out to them with God’s love. Sometimes, a person who wanders away feels judged by the church. They might feel the sting of gossip or the weight of condemnation. What they need is grace that extends patience and kindness. Henry Ward Beecher said that “compassion will cure more sins than condemnation.”
Is there a person you can identify who needs the pursuit of grace?
Pursuing the spiritual drifter with God’s grace is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Acts 10:34 and 35.
Peter said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”
Peter made this statement at the house of Cornelius, who was a military commander in the Roman army. Cornelius was a Gentile, and Peter was a Jew. Peter had the opportunity to share the Gospel with Cornelius and his household. At the same time, Peter was learning that this Gospel was not confined to national boundaries, but would be good news to all who embraced the testimony of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
This truth could be instrumental in stopping racism today. The starting place for mending strained relations of any kind is opening our heart to the love of God.
Embracing God’s love for people of every race and nationality is a vital-relationship building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – In our Relationship-Building Principles, we are examining some of the ways Jesus’ followers can be effective witnesses for the Gospel.
One way is to take the direct approach.
We see that in a number of places in the book of Acts. On the day of Pentecost, Peter gave a sermon where he talked about Jesus, and what He had accomplished when He was on the earth-how He died on a cross, rose from the dead, and was exalted at the right hand of God.
The people asked Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” 3,000 people were added to the church that day.
On another occasion, a desperate jailer asked Paul and Silas, “what must I do to be saved?” Paul’s response was direct: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household.” That man came to believe in God and was filled with joy.
When someone asks how they can be saved, that is a good time to explain that Jesus is the answer.
Taking the direct approach of sharing the Gospel is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on news that is too good to contain.
In the book of Second Kings, four men in Samaria had leprosy. A great famine had overtaken their city due to a long siege by a strong army. Instead of staying at the city gate to die, the men decided to go over to the enemy camp to surrender, in the hope that they would live. But when they got there, no one was at the camp. The army had fled their tents, but left behind food, clothing, and money.
The men with leprosy ate and drank and carried off the silver, gold, and clothing and buried them as hidden treasure. Then they came back for more. Eventually, they said to each other, “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves.” They decided to report their findings to the royal palace.
There is a spiritual thirst and hunger in the land today. The Good News of Jesus is what this world needs. Would it be right for beggars who have been blessed by this abundant treasure to keep it for themselves? Telling others this good news is much like a beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. There is no shortage of supply, because God’s love is abundant and eternal.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the righteous causes that spring from godly desires.
These are words from Psalm 37:4 to 6. “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”
When we are fully committed to God, there is a purpose that is stirred in our heart that moves us to action. That purpose is the Gospel. God gives His followers different forms of ministry to represent Jesus to the community. One person might have the calling to confront racism, while another person might have the desire to serve at a homeless shelter. Another person might be moved to speak up and defend those who have no voice to speak up for themselves. Where the Lord plants desires in our heart, He provides a platform to shed light on the justice of our cause. God-given desires become God’s opportunities to fulfill God’s purposes through us.
The righteous causes that spring from godly desires is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment of Celebration reflects on power of the Gospel to change us.
In reality, the good news of Jesus Christ changes lives in many ways. Four changes are found in Romans 1:16 and 17. The Apostle Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last; just as it is written, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’
One of the ways the gospel changes us is by saving our soul. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A second way that the gospel changes us is by making us right with God. Christians are not perfect, but we are forgiven and restored.
A third way the gospel changes us is by giving us a valuable advocate. Jesus has proven through the cross and empty grave that He is our worthy Savior, mighty God, and a faithful friend to the end.
A fourth way that the gospel changes us is by giving us enthusiasm to live the Christian life and publicly proclaim Jesus as Lord.
The power of the Gospel to change us is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.