JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is the key to real and authentic freedom?”
Over the Fourth of July, America celebrates Independence Day with fireworks. Political liberties such as free speech, religious expression, freedom of assembly, and the freedom of the press are all granted in the U.S. Constitution. These are some of the liberties that we enjoy today, which many other nations do not experience.
As precious as these liberties are, they are not the keys to real and authentic freedom. Jesus offers us the key in John 8:36. He said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Jesus was referring to Himself. He is full of grace and truth. One of His purposes for coming to the world was to set the captives free. In verse 31, He says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
While political freedoms can be taken away, no one can steal away our spiritual liberty. The truth of Jesus’ words and His gospel of grace are keys to real and authentic freedom in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Relationship-Building Principle comes from Micah 6:8.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Following this good path will guide us into relationships that bring honor to God.
To act justly means that we treat people with fairness and without partiality. We speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. We stand for the truth and refuse to be influenced by bribes. Acting justly flows out of a commitment to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.
Loving mercy means that it gives us great delight to offer a helping hand to those in needy places, like the Good Samaritan who aided a man on the side of the road beaten by robbers. Loving mercy also means being gracious and patient with people who have stumbled into sin. The love of Jesus fills us with compassion for the condition of their soul.
Walking humbly with God means that we acknowledge the authority of Jesus over us and follow Him day-by-day, step by step.
Doing what is good in the eyes of the Lord 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 encouragement of a friend.
It happened in the book of Third John, when the Apostle John wrote to a follower of Jesus named Gaius
He said to his dear friend in verse 3, “It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
We all benefit by this kind of encouragement. If we see someone who is demonstrating their love for God in the way they live, that is a good opportunity to express how we see God at work in them. John noted the good report he was hearing of the faithful witness of Gaius. This report was giving John matchless joy. His words of encouragement in Third John are examples for us to build others up in the faith, so that they will continue to walk in the truth of the Gospel
The encouragement of a friend is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment of Celebration reflects on freedom in Christ.
Jesus said in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
There are reasons to cherish our political freedoms to vote, to speak out, and to publicly express our worship for God.
However, the greatest form of freedom is the kind that comes from knowing Jesus Christ. Here are some of the ways that Jesus sets us free.
In Christ we are set free to love people as He loves us. Galatians 5:13 talks about using our freedom to serve one another in love.
In Christ, we are set free from the penalty of our sin through God’s forgiveness. Romans 8:1 says “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
In Christ, we are set free to know the truth of God’s will and do it. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Following God is our pathway to real and lasting freedom.
Freedom in Christ is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – First Timothy 6:18 talks about Jesus making the good confession before Pontius Pilate.
In accusing Jesus of blasphemy, the religious leaders handed Him over to Pontius Pilate. That is when Pilate questioned Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
This was Jesus’ testimony before Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Pilate said, “You are a king then!”
Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Pilate responded by asking, “What is truth?” And then he walked away from Jesus. The good confession of Jesus reveals Himself as a king who is not of this world and the source of truth to set the captives free from the lies of this world. In a world of many voices offering freedom, the most important voice to heed is Jesus Christ.
Christ’s good confession before Pilate is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – To know whether or not we can trust something or someone, we need to have confidence in whether or not they are true. The words ‘true’ and ‘trustworthy’ go together.
On one occasion, Jesus prayed for His followers, saying, “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth.”
When does the Bible make a difference in our lives? When we accept it as truth. That is where we find Jesus crucified for our sins, then risen from the dead, and exalted as Lord.
In First Thessalonians 2:13, Paul wrote a letter to the church saying, “We also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”
This is how the Bible can have a life-changing impact on our lives that transforms us into the likeness of Christ-when we humbly accept the words of Scripture as the words of truth. Then, we will have a trustworthy resource for knowing God and knowing what He wants us to do.
The reliability of God’s Word is a lesson of faith worth remembering.