JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reasons to Believe are life, purpose and identity.
These three experiences of the Christian life are described in a single statement made by the Apostle Paul. When he was in Athens, he linked these experiences to a relationship with God. He said in
Acts 17:28, “In him, we live and move and have our being.”
In a relationship with God, we have life, eternally and abundantly through faith in Jesus Christ. Our spirit comes alive to God’s grace.
In a relationship with God, we move. He puts the purpose into the steps we take. That purpose is to glorify God. This focus will affect the choices we make day-to-day.
In a relationship with God, we have our being. As we know God as He is, we come to understand how He sees us. First John 3:1 says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
Life, Purpose, and Identity in Christ are reasons to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason To Believe is the purpose we have in God’s plan.
Psalm 138:8 says that “the LORD will fulfill his purpose for me.”
Not everyone who loves God may have the exact same mission field or the same ministry in the local church, but we do have the same purpose. That purpose is to know God and to glorify God, so that the name of Jesus will be famous throughout the earth.
Colossians 1:16 says that we were “made by Him and for Him.” Since God has given us breath, He has a plan for our lives. Therefore, we have meaningful purpose.
What He begins in us, He is able to complete. We are motivated by the love of God to wake up each new day and commit our lives to His plan. A good prayer to say to God each morning is “Lord, have your way in me today. Guide me in Your footsteps. Give me a willing heart to follow Your clear directive, and give me a discerning heart when I am not sure about where you are directing me. Amen.”
Our purpose in Christ is a reason to believe in God’s Good News.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Connection, today’s Encounter with Jesus examines hope and purpose.
In Philippians 1:21, a follower of Jesus made this remarkable statement, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
What did that statement mean for the Apostle Paul? He went on to elaborate that if he went on living in the body, that would mean fruitful labor for him. After he departed through death, he would be in the presence of Christ, which he described as “better by far.” He saw death as a promotion into heaven.
Yet, in the body, he recognized his purpose to spread the good news of Jesus to unbelievers and to build the body of Christ. His relationship with Jesus is what enabled Paul to live with this perspective.
A daily relationship with Christ inspires higher purpose and heavenly hope.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Second Timothy 4:7.
At the end of his life, Paul the Apostle said, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Here was a man who finished his life well. Paul could reflect on his journey as a Christian, and say that he fulfilled what God had called him to do on the earth.
It is believed that Abraham Lincoln once made this statement: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
The Apostle Paul was full of life during his ministry years, following Jesus and preaching His good news. In Philippians 1:21, he said, “For to me, to live is Christ.” Elsewhere, he said in Philippians 3:13 and 14, “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Paul lived with a singular purpose of living for Christ, and pursuing God’s plan for his life. At the end, he could reflect on a life of productive faithfulness to the Gospel while he lived on the earth and depart without regrets.
Keeping the faith is a vital relationship-building principle to take to heart in the Year of Connection.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the purpose of life and the promotion of heaven.
The Apostle Paul lived with this eternal perspective in Philippians 1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Paul lived with the perspective that as long as he lived in his body, and as long as God gave him breath, his service for God would mean fruitful labor. He knew that the church would benefit from his ministry. Paul was committed to laboring for the Lord so that the church would make progress and experience joy in their faith.
Yet, internally, Paul was torn. His heart was where his treasure was. His treasure was Jesus. His longing was to be with Christ. He knew that death was a promotion into the presence of the Lord forever.
As we follow Jesus with a sincere heart, we also are likely to feel this type of internal struggle. That is a normal reaction for the person who loves Jesus in the midst of a world that loves sin. But with an eternal perspective, we acknowledge that God has placed us here on the earth “for such a time as this” to live for Christ and make Him known.
For the follower of Christ, our purpose in life and promotion to heaven is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – From Esther 4:14.
A quote from Mordecai to Queen Esther, “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
This is perhaps the most often quoted passage in the book of Esther. Even though this book of the Bible does not mention God by name, His hand is clearly working in the circumstances that are unfolding in this book. An evil plot by Haman to wipe out the Jews is thwarted by Queen Esther. She used her influence to spare the Jews from annihilation. Her relative Mordecai offered her the encouragement she needed to take a personal risk for the sake of saving her people.
Whatever platform God has given us, that is an opportunity to stand for what is right. It may involve personal risk. We might pay the price of persecution for standing against evil. At the same time, we will know the joy of developing a deeper relationship with God as we follow Jesus with a loyal heart.
There are general purposes that God has for His followers: Knowing Him better, Glorifying Jesus, Building the church by the use of our spiritual gifts, and being a witness for Jesus to a world who needs His grace. For such a time as this, God is raising up His people to shine the light of grace and truth on a world darkened by division and deception.
Using our position as a platform to do God’s will is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.