If Necessary

February 4, 2023

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:6 NAS95) 

Why do bad things happen to good people? This is an age-old question that mankind has wrestled with for millennia. We might sharpen the question and ask, “Why do bad things happen to God’s people?” If we are children of God, why do bad things happen to us? Why doesn’t God choose to protect us from all the suffering in this life? 

This passage shows us that sometimes it is necessary that the people of God face trials. Why would God ever deem suffering necessary? Because trials that come upon us, if we keep looking to the Lord, will cause us to grow in our faith. As Peter says, trials prove our faith. Trials refine and purify our faith just as fire refines gold. When we learn to lean on God through our trials, we will find that we are spiritually strengthened. 

There is no doubt that trials can be very painful, and yet here is a powerful picture of joy mingled with pain. The Christians that Peter is writing to are suffering. They are distressed. They are going through fiery trials of suffering for Christ (1 Peter 4:12-13), and yet they simultaneously have a great joy. They are greatly rejoicing even though they are distressed by various trials. What is the source of this joy? It is everything that Peter reminded the saints of in the previous verses. Take a look at 1 Peter 1:3-5. They greatly rejoice, even in trials, because they have been born again to a living hope in Christ. They greatly rejoice, even in trials, because they have an inheritance reserved for them in heaven—an inheritance that is “imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away.” They greatly rejoice, even in trials, because they are protected by God through faith for a salvation that will one day be revealed to them. 

Yes, it is necessary that we face trials in this life. Are you going through a season of trial right now? Hold on to the Lord! He will never leave you or forsake you! If you will cling to Him in faith and reflect on His promises, even in the midst of suffering He can cause you to “…greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory…” (1 Peter 1:8b NAS95) 

—Scott Colvin 

A New Family Tradition

January 28, 2023

Let’s be honest, parenting is a hard job. Running here and there to keep our children fed, clothed, educated, well-rounded, and happy can be exhausting. Yes, parenting is a tough job, but it is also a great joy. Our children are a tremendous blessing from the Lord. They are like beautiful olive plants around your table (Psalm 128:3). How can we truly nurture and protect these gifts from God?

Most parents’ minds are completely absorbed in taking care of their children’s physical needs. But how are we doing with providing for our children spiritually? We can get so busy providing physical things (which are certainly important) that we can neglect the spiritual things that are far, far more important. Providing spiritual training and instruction for our kids is the most important thing that we can do as parents! For what will it profit our children if they are well-fed, well-educated, and well-entertained but lose their soul?

Is the Lord important to you? Is your faith important to you? Are there godly virtues that are important to you? Do you want your children to cherish these things, too? Of course, the church can (and should) help instill godly values in your children, but the most powerful way in which these things will be transmitted to them is through you! The evil in the world has a strong pull that must be counteracted with sustained effort. If we do nothing and just hope that our kids will pick up godly values on their own, the odds are very high that they will one day walk away from the Lord.

So, what can we do? I want to encourage you to start a tradition in your home of family devotional time. What might this look like? It will vary from family to family, but the idea is to spend quality time together as a family being near to God. Spend some time reading the word together. Give your children time to think and ask questions about what you read. You may be surprised by the great questions they have. Spend some time singing with your children. You might learn that your kids have hymns that are special to them. Spend some time in prayer together. You might find out new things that are on your children’s hearts. You don’t necessarily have to spend a long amount of time, and even if your children are very young, you may be surprised at what they are capable of learning.

Parents, it is up to us to instill the things of God in our children. Would you give family devotional time a try? I am convinced that it will be a great spiritual benefit to you and your kids, and it will make for some of your most cherished memories as a family.

—Scott Colvin

The Power of Your Mindset

January 20, 2023

Mindset is a very powerful thing. The Scripture makes this fact abundantly clear. Paul writes in Romans chapter 8, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace…” (Romans 8:6 NAS95) Similarly, Paul wrote to the Philippian church: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9 NAS95) 

God is offering us His peace! He, as the God of peace, is offering to be with you through the storms of life. He can give us His peace no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in! (2 Thessalonians 3:16) But here is the key: Are you setting your mind on the things of the Spirit? Are you setting your mind on what is true, lovely, and right? Our mindset will determine what we will receive from God. 

It is very easy to let our minds focus on our problems, anxieties, and fears. When our troubles are our focus, we miss out on the supernatural peace of God. That’s not to say that we should never think realistically about challenges that face us, but we must not let our mind be overcome with worry. There needs to be a reset of the mind and heart. 

It is also very easy to let our minds focus on the pleasures of this life. When our mind is constantly set on the things of the world rather than the things of God, the storms of life, when they come (and they will come), will shake us to our very core. There will be little peace found because our mindset has stopped the flow of spiritual power and nourishment from God. 

What do you dwell on during the course of the day? Where is your mind set? If we will set our mind on the Spirit, we will find life and peace! It’s a promise of God! 

—Scott Colvin 

The Transforming Cross

January 13, 2023

The cross of Jesus refers to his crucifixion by the Romans, his burial in a rich man’s previously unused tomb, and his resurrection from the dead. Christians look back on this once for all event as permanently dealing with sins and gaining the victory over death. But Paul also uses the cross as a model for our lives as Christians.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for
me. (Galatians 2:20, ESV)

This daily crucifixion is a putting to death of myself so that Christ may live in me. The voluntary death to self is motivated by the great love that Christ and the Father have for us.

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.(Galatians 5:24, ESV)

The above passage from Paul lets us know that this crucifixion of ourselves also has to do with the flesh. Flesh in Paul is defined well by the descriptive phrase that follows “with its passions and desires.” In other words, it is a putting to death of sinful desires in our life. It is a life lived by faith (Gal. 2:16), “through the Spirit, by faith” (Gal 5:5), and involves faith working through love (Gal. 5:6). Although we may be engaged in an inner moral struggle for Christian maturity, it is love that motivates us and the Spirit who strengthens us (Romans 8:13, Ephesians 3:16). It is not an unaided struggle.

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14, ESV)

The model of the cross is also a model for putting to death the world on a daily basis. Paul’s use of “world” is not to evoke the beauty of creation around us. Rather it is the world system that is hostile to God. My death to self is to result in a new creation (Gal. 6:15). It will be because I’m walking by the Spirit which is the opposite of gratifying the desires of the flesh (i.e., worldly, sinful desires). I’m to be led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:18) which will produce the fruit of the Spirit, which is a very different lifestyle from the one lived by worldly values. And Paul offers a challenge to us: “let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). We must pay attention to what it means to let Christ live in us. We must be vigilant that we are not slipping back into worldliness for the new creation is in Christ, it is not in the world.

As you ponder the cross of Christ, also consider your daily crucifixion of self. The cross of Christ is to be a transforming cross.

–Russ Holden

Preserving Unity and Peace

January 6, 2023

Unity and peace among brethren must be cherished and preserved. One of the most important objectives for each of us is “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3 NAS95) Peace among brothers and sisters in the Lord must be nourished and protected. We need to make every effort to preserve the unity that the Spirit has created among us.

What are some things that promote unity and peace? Paul wrote in the previous verse, “…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love…” (Ephesians 4:2 NAS95). Here are some of the qualities that make good relationships flourish. Humility builds peace and unity, while arrogance tears it down. Gentleness builds peace and unity, while harsh and rude words tear it down. Patience and tolerance for one another build peace and unity, while expressing irritability and annoyance at the shortcomings of others tears it down.

Preserving unity and peace amongst ourselves is so important that God has given some strong warnings in scripture about those who are intent on destroying it. Take, for example, this Proverb about things that the Lord hates: “There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16–19 NAS95) Note that one who spreads strife among brothers is an abomination to the LORD. This is a strong warning! Or, as another example, think of Paul’s words to Titus: “Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10-11 NAS95). A factious person is a division-maker—one who purposefully causes divisions in the body of Christ. Again, this is a very serious matter to the Lord.

We should all be very thankful for the unity and peace that exists among the church here in our congregation. It is a precious thing! It is pleasing to the Lord! May God continue to bless us with peace as we strive for peace.

—Scott Colvin

The Importance of the Assembly

January 2, 2023

My prayer for each of us is that we would grow spiritually in this new year. May God grant that each of us will grow closer to Him than ever before in 2023. May He grant that we would grow in love for Him and for one another. May He grant that we would advance in spiritual wisdom and insight. I pray that the richest blessings of God will be upon you, your family, and this church.

One powerful way that God brings these rich blessings into our lives is through the assembly of the saints on the Lord’s Day. Coming together for worship draws our hearts closer to God. Coming together for worship gives us an opportunity to build up and encourage one another. It gives us strength for the trials and temptations that we face. As we gather to offer up our hearts in thanksgiving to God, He will bless us. As we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.
On the other hand, if we are not faithful in coming to worship, we will certainly miss out on the blessings that God intends for us. When we neglect worship, we will be weakened spiritually over time. We will be in great danger of drifting away from the Lord.

I want to encourage you today to renew your commitment to assembling with the church each Lord’s Day. There is nothing better that you could do for yourself in the new year. Now is a wonderful time to make coming to worship a priority. Let us not come merely out of habit, but let us come actively seeking to offer our hearts to Him in praise. Let us come actively seeking to encourage and strengthen one another. Let us come actively seeking to mold our lives to His word. As the writer of Hebrews says, “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24–25 NAS95)

Happy new year! May your soul prosper in 2023.

—Scott Colvin

My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation

December 25, 2022

“And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, ‘Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.’ And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.” (Luke 2:25–33 NAS95)

Can you imagine taking God in the flesh, the Savior of the world, into your arms? What joy! What hope would fill your heart! Simeon had been waiting and watching for the Messiah to enter the world, and as he held Jesus in his arms, his longing was finally fulfilled. He knew that he could now die in peace because the Lord had let him see with his own eyes the salvation of God, the light of the gentiles, and the glory of Israel.

At this time of year, as many are reflecting on the birth of Jesus, may the Lord present us with opportunities to help people move from appreciation of the beautiful baby, Jesus, to an understanding of why He was born. May we help people to see the glory and hope that Simeon saw in Jesus as he held Him in his arms. Jesus was born to show us the Father. He was born to die on the cross, and to be raised again for the salvation of mankind. Jesus Christ is the salvation of God! May we never lose our awe and wonder as we contemplate His life. Let us fall on our knees today and worship Him!

—Scott Colvin

Holding the Line on Baptism

December 20, 2022

There are certain topics and passages in the Bible that are difficult for us as the people of God to fully understand.  There are subjects that even sincere lovers of truth and followers of Christ might disagree on, and sometimes we have to agree to disagree while we continue to study and ask God for His insight.  But there are other topics and passages that the people of God must believe and agree upon.  These are topics that are so foundational to our faith that to hold a different opinion than the one clearly taught in scripture will put a person outside of the faith.  Yes, we should show the grace and kindness of Christ to those who hold other opinions, but on these foundational topics, we must be ready to hold the line.

I believe that baptism is one of these foundational topics.  It is crucial that we understand what the Lord has said about baptism and then hold firmly to the truth.  Why does baptism qualify as a foundational topic?  Because the scriptures teach that baptism is the point in time at which, by faith in Christ, our sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38, 22:16).  Baptism is the point in time at which, by faith, we die with Christ, are buried with Him, and are raised up to newness of life (Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:11-12).  Baptism is the point in time at which, by faith, we are freed from the power of sin (Romans 6:6-7).  It is the point in time at which, by faith, we die to the law so that we can live to Christ (Romans 6:2-3, 7:6).  Baptism is the time at which, in reaching out to Christ in faith, we are clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:26-27).  We could go on, but in short, it is the moment in time at which, by faith in Jesus, we are saved! (Mark 16:15-16).

Looking at the above list, it is clear that baptism is a moment of utmost importance.  It is the moment that one begins their walk with Christ.  Therefore, how important is it that we hold the line on this topic?  How important is it that we stand on this truth and share it with others who are seeking the Lord?  We would do our Lord and the lost world around us a grave disservice by failing to show them this great truth.  If we fail to hold to this truth, we could lead people to believe they are in a right relationship with God when in truth, they have never been united with Christ and have never received the free gift of salvation in the way that Christ has commanded.

May God help us hold to His truth in all humility and gentleness.   

—Scott Colvin

It’s Time to Decide

December 13, 2022

At the end of Joshua’s life, when the people of Israel were receiving their inheritance in the promised land, Joshua assembled all the people together to urge them to be true to the Lord.  He said to them, “Now therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.  If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-15 NAS95)

Joshua is urging the people of God to a full commitment to God.  This powerful message is one that we ourselves need to consider carefully.  Sometimes we waiver in our dedication.  Sometimes we live our lives straddling the fence—with one foot in the Lord and one foot out.  But God is calling us to full commitment.  Choose this day whom you will serve!  If you are halfway committed, it is time today to make a choice!  Is the Lord God, or not?  Is His way right, or not?  Will He bless those who seek Him, or not?  Is it disagreeable to you to serve Him?  Then choose whom you will serve.  Will you choose God, or the false gods of this world?  Will you choose God, or your own way?  Make the choice today: who you will serve, who you will lead your family to serve, and commit yourself fully to your choice.

What does full commitment to God look like?  It is not just words spoken or good intentions, but right actions.  It is being dedicated to studying His word and striving to walk by the Spirit.  It is being dedicated to prayer.  It is being dedicated to assembling with the church on the Lord’s Day and bringing your children along with you.  It is being dedicated to living a life unspotted by the world.  Are we striving for these things?  If not, why not?

And remember, that when we choose the Lord, when we dedicate ourselves to His way, He will take notice.  He will bless us and our families.  He will strengthen us.  He will be near to us if we will seek Him with a committed heart.

What about you?  Have you made your choice, or are you sitting on the fence missing out on the blessings of full commitment?  Choose this day whom you will serve!

Small Changes, Meaningful Results

December 3, 2022

It is said that to modify our own behavior, three things are necessary: motivation, ability, and a prompt. Clearly motivation is important for changing behavior. No one will ever change if there is no desire to change. The second ingredient—ability—has to do with how easy a behavior is. The easier something is, the more likely we are to do it. The third ingredient—a prompt—is very helpful because we often need a nudge to do something even if we are highly motivated and capable. A prompt is a cue that reminds us to carry out a desired behavior. When these three ingredients are present, changing our habits for the better is much more likely.

I must admit that I do not like thinking of Bible reading merely as a “habit.”
It is much more than typical habits we think of, like making the bed or exercising, etc. When we read the word of God in faith, we are truly having an encounter with God. It is a transformational experience for the soul. With that said, I do wonder if we could use the above principles of behavior modification to create a healthy habit of regular Bible reading.

Let’s start with the third component — a prompt. What if you decided that every morning when your feet hit the floor you will read just a few verses before starting the day? Or maybe the prompt could be when you turn on your computer at the office, or perhaps when you pour your first cup of coffee. Take some time to think of a prompt that will work for you.

Let’s think about the second component—ability. The easier something is, the more likely you are to do it. So, make your Bible easy to access. Place your bible on your nightstand to be easily reached. Place it on your desk at work; visible and ready to go. Also, make things easy by deciding that you will read for only, say, 5 minutes. You could always read more if you choose, but if you can read for just 5 minutes, consider it a win. If you keep just a few verses in your heart throughout the day, it will be a tremendous blessing to you.

Finally, let’s think about motivation. This should be an easy one. Think about the words of Jesus, “…the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63b NAS95) Or the words of the psalmist, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NAS95)

God’s word brings life, light, transformation, and renewal. If we will be diligent to spend time in His word on a regular basis, we will be richly blessed!

If you’re struggling to read the word regularly, perhaps these ideas will help you start down a lifelong path of blessings.

—Scott Colvin