JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Galatians 6:1 and 2.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Expressing love to sinners can get messy. The ultimate example of this is Jesus Christ, who went to the cross for our sins. As we walk in the light of God’s love, we will recognize two important realities. The first reality is that there are people all around us who need Jesus. And the second reality is that even though we might have a relationship with Jesus, we are still capable of giving in to temptation. So, we are wise to guard our own heart, so that the Spirit living in us influences the person caught in sin, rather than sin in the other person having an influence on us.
In reaching out to people who have been caught in a sin, we have the opportunity to restore them to fellowship with God. The Bible says that we are to do this gently. This means, showing mercy and patience so that they can perceive God’s love expressed through us. It means sharing the good news that Jesus can change us from the inside out as we look to Him as Savior and Lord.
Carrying the burdens of another is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Connection, today’s Encounter with Jesus examines the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Jesus told this Parable to an expert in the Law who recited the greatest commandments of the Bible to Jesus. One of those commands is to love your neighbor as yourself. The expert in the law asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
That is when Jesus told the story of a man going from Jerusalem to Jericho. He fell into the hands of robbers and was beaten badly. Three men traveled on the same road and noticed the man. The two religious leaders who saw him passed by him on the other side of the road. But a Samaritan man, a foreigner, responded differently. He moved toward the injured man, bandaged his wounds and took care of him.
After telling the story, Jesus asked the expert in the law, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”
A daily connection with Christ will move us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Connection, today’s Encounter with Jesus examines His role as our high priest.
One of the functions of the high priest in the Old Testament was to enter the Most Holy Place once a year to make atonement for himself and the people. The high priest would offer animal blood as sacrifices year after year, which did not have the power to take away sin. Then came Jesus who offered Himself for our sins once for all. His blood was payment enough to take our sin away. His grace is sufficient for our need.
Hebrews 4:14 says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
In our times of weakness and temptations, Jesus will be our source of strength if we turn to Him. He is able to turn our weaknesses into strengths, so that when people see the change in our lives, they see the power of Christ making the difference.
A daily connection with Christ gives us constant access to the throne of grace.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the praise that flows from a redeemed life
Here is one person’s testimony. The Apostle Paul wrote in First Timothy 1:15: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason, I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Paul is saying in essence, that if Jesus can save him, he can save anybody no matter how deep their depravity has taken them. When Jesus saves us from our sins, He fills our heart with thanksgiving and praise. We realize the dark destiny He rescued us from and the hopeful future He is leading us to experience. His mercy is marvelous in our eyes, and it has changed us from the inside out. Now we have been set free to bring glory to God with the activity of our lives.
The praise that flows from a redeemed life is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment of Celebration reflects on the blessing of forgiveness.
Psalm 32, verse 1 says, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.”
This describes the person who has confessed their sins to God and confessed their need for His mercy. They are focused on walking with God with a humble heart. They do not make intentional plans that disregard God’s laws. Rather, they seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. Their first love is for God, and that allegiance compels them to live for His glory.
The forgiveness of God offers us freedom from guilt. In the New Testament of the Bible, we learn that this forgiveness is available through faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 3:23 and 24 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
The blessing of forgiveness is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.