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 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 – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What does the Bible say about going into debt?”
Romans 13:8 gives us this instruction: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
While God’s Word does not forbid going into debt, it stresses the responsibility to pay back what we owe. So, we should not go into debt without a plan to get out of debt.
One debt that will always remain outstanding is the debt to love one another because there is always more to give.
Another debt that is impossible for us to pay back in full is the sinful actions that we have committed, whether in word, thought, or deed. But where we have fallen short, God has provided a payment plan for us through the blood of Jesus, which was shed on the cross. I Peter 1:18 tells us that we are redeemed, not by the payment of silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.
Through faith in Jesus, we are set free from the debt of sin and receive the credit of righteousness in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the capacity to love in extraordinary ways.
There are different kinds of love that we express. Some ways are more extraordinary than others. For example, Jesus said in Luke 6:33, “If you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.”
But what about love for our enemies? Or what about showing compassion to someone when it’s not convenient? Or what about giving to someone when it involves personal sacrifice? Jesus knows about that kind of love and demonstrated these expressions of love when He went to the cross. He is the author of true love, and He shows us the way of love by His example and through His teachings.
First John 4:19 says “We love because he first loved us.” And Jesus said to His disciples in John 13:35, By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The capacity to love in extraordinary ways is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Corinthians 4:12.
Being an apostle of Christ required great courage and love in the early church. Paul the Apostle wrote, “We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.”
The Apostles of the early church were serious about applying Jesus’ command to ‘love our enemies.’ Another person who lived out this command in a powerful way more recently was Elisabeth Elliot. She died recently at the age of 88. Elisabeth Elliot dedicated part of her life to serving a group of people who lived in a remote area of Ecuador. She reached out in a spirit of peace to the same people who killed her husband, Jim Elliot in 1956. Instead of seeking revenge, she sought their salvation. The Lord worked through Elisabeth Elliot’s extraordinary love and dedication to reach the unreached with the Gospel. According to an article in Christianity Today, the tribe that was considered one of the most violent in the world would see a 90 percent drop in homicides over the next 20 years. This is what can happen when God’s people seek to overcome evil with good.
Returning human hatred with God’s love is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Romans 13:8.
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
Financially, God’s Word cautions us about going into debt so far that we cannot pay it back. We have financial responsibilities to pay back our loans to the best of our ability.
Relationally, God’s Word tells us there is always more love to give. Every day is an opportunity to let God’s love flow through us to reach others in a way that builds them up. The consistent expression of love is a credit to God’s love moving through us.
The law is based on love. The next verse talks about some of these commandments:
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery”, “You shall not murder”, “You shall not steal”, “You shall not covet”, and whatever other command there may be are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”
The consistent expression of love is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – This week’s Relationship-Building Principles examine how inviting God’s presence into our lives is healthy for our relationships.
Where God’s Presence is welcome, there is love.
First John 4, verses 7 and 8 are all about love, and how God’s love motivates us to reach out to others.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Then we learn what kind of love the Apostle John is talking about. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”
The love of Jesus was demonstrated through His service and sacrifice. There was no doubting that the expression of His love at the cross was authentic. God was demonstrating his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Having faith in Jesus gives us access to this power to love others selflessly and sincerely, with the heart of service and sacrifice.
Having the love of God is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Corinthians 13:5.
Love “is not easily angered.”
God’s love serves to temper our anger when patience is tested. We are not prone to emotional outbursts when guided by God’s love.
That is not to say that we are never angered. Jesus vented His anger when He saw God’s house of worship turned into a den of robbers. There are some injustices in this world that should upset us to the point of doing something about it.
However, when we are motivated by love, we are not easily angered or easily offended when someone disappoints us. We stay calm and cool. If there are differences to work out, love compels us to use conversations rather than shouting matches to address them. James 1:19 instructs us to “be slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
Being slow to become angry is a relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Corinthians 13:5.
“Love is not self-seeking.”
Sin is an “I” centered word. So is Pride. Selfish desires get in the way of thriving relationships.
The focus of true love goes beyond ourselves. In the context of our relationship with God, the focus is on bringing glory to God. In the context of our relationship with others, the focus is on blessing them with encouragement, a servant’s heart, and edifying words.
Joy can be an acronym for “Jesus, Others, Yourself”. With those priorities in that order, the door is open for us to experience the joy of living out the Gospel.
Focusing beyond ourselves is a relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from First Corinthians 13:4.
“Love is patient, love is kind.”
With love, we recognize that people are in process. They have room for growing in maturity and character development, just as we have room for growth in these areas. With patience, we give our friends and neighbors time and opportunity to grow. We work with them so that they might develop into the kind of person that God calls them to be. Jesus is our ultimate example of patience. Mark 16 says that as the disciples went out and preached the Gospel, the Lord worked with them. He was working with men who had room for growth.
With love, we also exercise kindness. This means that we have a friendly disposition in our relationships. We show consideration for the needs of others, and seek to be a blessing in their lives. There is great influence in kindness. Romans 2:4 talks about God’s kindness leading us toward repentance. Lives can change in dramatic ways when kindness is expressed in our relationships.
Patience and kindness are qualities that benefit our marriages, family relationships, and friendships.
Exercising patience and kindness is a relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK -Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Proverbs 14:22.
“Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.”
Plans indicate our intentions to act. This verse is referring to the principle of sowing and reaping.
If we sow evil plans, we will stray off course from God’s intended will for our lives, and the outcome leads to confusion, dissension, and pain. Someone gets hurt when evil plans are carried out. If our plans are evil, God’s remedy is for us to turn back before we carry out those plans.
If the Lord directs our plans, those plans will be consistent with love and faithfulness, and good fruit will flow out of our actions. A generous person who refreshes others will be refreshed. What we send out is often what comes back. Those who plan what is good open the door for thriving relationships and for the name of the Lord to be honored.
Making plans that are good in the eyes of the Lord is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.