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 Moment of Celebration reflects on worship from the heart
In Psalm 69:30, David, a man after God’s own heart, said, “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hoofs.”
It was common for animal sacrifices to be used under Old Testament law to reveal our need for forgiveness and cleansing from sin. In reality, they were not the real cleansing agent, but they did foreshadow the complete cleansing from sin that we can experience through faith in Jesus Christ, who was the perfect sacrifice to take away our sins.
David was saying that sincere worship from a thankful heart would mean more to God than the offering of an ox or a bull on the altar.
Hebrews 10:22 invites us to draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith. God has given us music as an instrument to lift up the name of Jesus with words that overflow from our heart.
Worshipping God with a sincere heart is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment of Celebration reflects on the value of a true blue friend.
H. G. Bohn has said, “Friendships multiply joys and divide griefs.” There is something deeply meaningful when we celebrate special occasions with friends and loved ones. Perhaps this is why we tend to invite our circle of friends to our birthday parties and wedding ceremonies. We are also comforted by the support of friends in our low moments, when we have lost a loved one or if we have lost our job unexpectedly. Friends may not have the solutions to take away our pain, but they do offer us love and encouragement, which we really need when we find ourselves in a tough place.
The Bible reveals the value of a true blue friend this way:
Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Jesus is the ultimate expression of a true blue friend. He told His followers, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” The next day, Jesus laid down His life for His friends.
The value of a true blue friend is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Philippians 2:6 tells us that “being in very nature God, he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!”
Jesus deserved the crown of glory. Instead, He wore the crown of thorns.
Jesus was worthy of being lifted up to a throne of honor. Instead, He suffered the cross of shame.
Jesus was worthy of being served as a distinguished leader. Instead, He came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.
There is an important reason to examine the attitude of Christ. Philippians 2:5 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
The attitude of Jesus is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – From Hebrews 9:22b.
“Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.”
This foundational truth points us to the reason why Jesus came to shed his blood for us. We have sinned against a holy God, and cannot save ourselves from the wages of sin, which is death. Only a hand beyond us could rescue us-a hand that is holy and nail-scarred. Up until the time of Christ, the blood of bulls and goats were sacrificed, but that was not really effective to forgive people’s sins. The Bible tells us that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That sacrificial system was only a shadow of things to come, not the real deal.
Verse 26 says that Christ has now appeared at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. His blood, shed on the cross, was a sufficient payment for our sins. Because of what Jesus did at the cross, we have forgiveness of sins through faith in His name. With the guilt of our sins cleared away, the barrier has been removed, and we have freedom to walk with God as His follower and friend.
Trusting the blood of Christ for forgiveness is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From First John 4:10.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
Just about anyone can say the words, “I love you”, but the real test of that love will come in actions. God’s expression of love for us was not empty. He backed up His claim with a sacrifice of love. He gave us Jesus, who paid the penalty for our sins so that we could enjoy the gift of eternal life. There is no way we can outdo the love of God. But through Jesus, it is possible for us to tap into that love and let it flow through us to share with others. The next verse, First John 4:11 says, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
God’s love is not to be hoarded, but shared. As God’s love compels us in our activity, the Holy Spirit enables us to thrive where we are planted. We are refreshed by His love, even as we bring refreshment to others.
The expressions of sincere love are vital signs of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.