The Prosperous Soul

December 31, 2021

“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 2, NASB) This was John’s prayer for Gaius, his faithful brother in the Lord, and this is my prayer for each of you in the new year—that you will prosper in all respects.

I pray that God will grant each of you success in school and in your careers.  I pray that you will find contentment in life, and satisfaction in your work.  I hope that business will be good, and that you will use whatever financial blessings God may choose to bless you with for His kingdom and His glory. 

I pray that God will bless you with good health.  What trying times we have been through for nearly two years now.  Times like these really make us appreciate good health, don’t they?  May God bless each of you with good health, and may we use the blessing of good health for the sake of Christ.  Let us use whatever physical strength and vitality God may grant us to be busy about His work and to serve one another.

Most of all, I pray that your soul will prosper in the new year.  This is of utmost importance.  What good is it to have physical blessings and good health if we neglect the condition of our soul?  As Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26a, NASB) A prosperous soul is a blessing of the highest order.  When our soul prospers, we will find unspeakable joy, peace that surpasses comprehension, and renewed hope.  When our soul prospers, we will find satisfaction, and contentment.  When our soul prospers, we will truly be living the good life. But when we neglect the condition of our soul, we will find trouble, sorrow, and confusion in life.  I plead with you; do the things which will cause your soul to prosper in the year ahead.

Let’s make 2022 a year in which each of us grow spiritually like never before.  I pray it will be a year in which each of us are granted deeper spiritual understanding.  I pray it will be a year in which each of us will find the deepest joy and satisfaction in a closer walk with God.  May your soul prosper in the new year!

— Scott Colvin


December 28, 2021

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NASB) Did you know that God is trying to work in you a complete inner transformation?  His desire is to work in you an inward metamorphosis—a complete, fundamental change in your nature.  This process of transformation is not something that we work in ourselves by our own power.  It is the work of God through His Spirit.  As the passage states, we are to be transformed.  Of course, to be transformed, we must choose to allow transformation to happen.  We must choose to let God go to work in us.    

So, what must we do to allow God to perform His work of transformation?  The above verse shows us the answer.  First, we must choose to not be conformed (molded, shaped) to this world.  One of the greatest dangers for us as Christians is that after we become partakers of His life, His glory, and His nature, that we would slide back into our old ways.  It is so easy to let the world around us mold and shape us.  It is so easy to fall back into our former ungodly lusts and desires.  Doing so will stop God’s work of transformation in us.  Secondly, note that transformation comes from the renewing of our mind.  Our mind can easily become clouded and polluted by the junk that spews out from the world around us.  Our minds must be renewed.  How can we renew our mind?  By study, prayer, and worship.  These will bring us near to God so that He can bring renewal and transformation.

Take a hard look at your life.  Are you being conformed or transformed?  Are you being molded and shaped by the world, or molded and shaped by God?  It is His desire to transform each of us into the image of His Beloved Son.  Will you invite God to go to work in you?            

— Scott Colvin

Do You Know Jesus?

December 22, 2021

Was Jesus born on December 25th? The answer is probably not. We do not know the month and day of Jesus’ birth. The celebration of Jesus’ birth began in the fourth century. Emperors in the third century had celebrated the sun cult on December 25th, and this was continued by Constantine. In the latter part of the fourth century, Christians began to celebrate Jesus’ birthday on December 25th in effect continuing a celebration but changing the meaning of it. The fact that Luke mentions the shepherds in the fields (Luke 2:8) would suggest that the birth was between March/April and October/November.

Was Jesus born in a stable? If you say yes, you are being influenced by the fact that Jesus was placed in a manger. Certainly some traditions place the birth in a stable. The non-canonical work, the Protevangelium of James (c. 200 A.D.), has Mary giving birth in a cave, which was used as a stable. However, the typical house of this period also had mangers in them, because animals were brought into the house at night.

The “inn” of Luke 2:7 is not the word for a commercial inn as in Luke 10:34. The word in the birth narrative means a guest room. The same word is used to describe the upper room of the Last Supper (Luke 22:11). It is possible that the guest room was already taken, and that Mary and Joseph were housed in the main living quarters of the house, which would have had a manger.

Were there three wise men? The text of Matthew does not tell us how many wise men (Magi – the word means “magician” or “astrologer”) visited Jesus. The tradition of three wise men is likely based on the fact that three gifts are mentioned: gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11).

Did the wise men arrive the night of Jesus’ birth? Matthew 2:1 indicates that the wise men arrived in Jerusalem to inquire about the birth of the king after the birth of Jesus. A comparison with Luke also suggests this. Jesus was presented in the temple 40 days after his birth according to the law (Leviticus 12:3-4 – 8 plus 33 with the days counted inclusively). Jesus’ parents gave the offering of the poor, a pair of turtledoves (Luke 2:24, Leviticus 12:8). Joseph and Mary would surely have had enough funds for a lamb offering if the wise men’s gifts had been received prior to the presentation in the temple. Most chronologies of Jesus’ life would place the coming of the wise men after the presentation in the temple.

No, I’m not a curmudgeon when looking at nativity scenes grumbling that they have it wrong. But it is important to know the facts. The eyewitnesses of Jesus point us to Jesus. The most important question you can ask yourself at this season of the year or any season of the year is: do you know Jesus?

The Majesty of the Lord Jesus

December 21, 2021

In the first two chapters of the book of Colossians we receive a stunning view of the glory and majesty of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We get an inspired glimpse of who He is, and who He was from all eternity.  Listen to these splendid words: “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17, NASB).  Nothing has been made, whether visible or invisible, that wasn’t made by and for Jesus Christ.  There is no throne or dominion, whether human or in the spiritual realm, that Jesus Christ is not far above.  Even as you read these words, Jesus Christ is holding together the entire universe by the word of His power.  Should He stop holding it all together, everything we know, everything we can see and can’t see—from the smallest atom to the most distant galaxy—would cease to exist.

And if anything could be more stunning than the amazing majesty and power of our Lord, it is this:  that the creator and sustainer of all things would empty Himself, take on a human body, and give up His life for us.  Jesus, the Eternal One, the All-Powerful One, gave everything so that sinful, undeserving people like you and me can share in His life.  “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach (Colossians 1:21-22, NASB) Even though we were hostile to God, even though we were living in evil, Christ came to save us.  He came so that we could be holy and without blame in His sight.  The One in whom all the fullness of Deity dwells came so that we would be filled up to His fullness (Colossians 2:9-10, Ephesians 3:19).

Each Lord’s Day, we gather to fall down and worship the One who created all things, who is above all things, and yet who humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross so that we might truly live through Him.  May our souls magnify the Lord and rejoice in God, our Savior.     

— Scott Colvin

You of Little Faith

December 16, 2021

In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus teaches us how to deal with anxiety.  He reminds us not to worry about our lives and says this: “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!(Matthew 6:30, NASB)

In Matthew chapter 8, we see Jesus and His disciples in a boat as a great storm arose on the sea.  The disciples were terrified and cried out to Jesus, “Save us, Lord!”  Jesus responded, “…Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?’ Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea and it became perfectly calm.” (Matthew 8:26, NASB)

Some time later, the disciples were again on a boat, and once again, the wind and waves were battering them.  The disciples looked and saw Jesus walking toward them on the water.  At Jesus’ invitation, Peter got out of the boat and began to walk toward Him.  “But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’  Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:31, NASB)

Like Jesus’ disciples, we sometimes struggle mightily with the terrible trio of worry, fear, and doubt.  These emotions can rule over our lives.  What is the root cause of chronic worry, fear, and doubt?  In each of the above passages, Jesus pinpoints the cause—lack of faith!  This can be hard to hear, but they are the words of Jesus.  “You of little faith!”  But by understanding the root cause, by God’s grace we can find help to overcome.  We need to be growing our faith. When “doubts arise and fears dismay” in life, we might ask ourselves 3 questions to refocus our faith:  1) Is God aware of my problems in life?  2) Does God care about me and have my best interest at heart? 3) Does God have the power to help?  The answer to each of these questions is a resounding yes! Having this assurance in our heart, we can come in renewed faith to search His word for answers and to lay our anxieties at His feet in prayer.  As we look to Him in faith, He will grant His divine help and comfort!  He will grant us His peace!  Lord, teach us to increase our faith!

— Scott Colvin

When Faith Suffers

December 11, 2021

What did Joseph pray from the pit, while his brothers planned to murder him? Was his prayer answered when the plot went from murder to selling him into slavery? How did he feel when he stood falsely accused of attempted rape? What prayers do you pray when days in prison stretch into weeks, and weeks into months, and months into years?

Did Joseph have a glimmer of hope when he interpreted the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker? Did the words “remember me” echo in the prison the day the chief cupbearer was released? Yet days passed into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. Two years passed before Joseph interprets the dream of Pharaoh—an opportunity that changed his life and the lives of his family.

When Joseph reveals himself to his brothers after two decades of separation, he encourages them with these words: “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you” (Genesis 45:5, NIV). At their father’s death, Joseph must again reassure his brothers. He says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20, NIV).

I suspect that Joseph provides a commentary on Paul’s words. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV). Joseph suffered. He really suffered. The problems didn’t go away quickly. He may have wondered, “Why me?” Yet, Joseph maintains his faith, and he reaches a point in his life where he recognizes that although others have intended harm, God has worked for good.

Romans 8:28 is not a Band-Aid that when applied takes all the pain away. Coming from the lips of the non-sufferer at the wrong moment, it may even sting the person who is in pain. Yet Joseph’s story and Paul’s statement remind us that when faith suffers, it does not suffer alone. The God of history is there. The God who understands the cross and the tomb is there. The God who works for good is there. When faith suffers, God has the final word, and the word is “good.”

–Russ Holden


Entering into the Presence of God

December 7, 2021

In Matthew’s account of the crucifixion, we read this: “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.  And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…” (Matthew 27:50-51a NASB) The veil of the temple was a large, thick curtain that physically separated the “holy of holies” from the rest of the temple.  The holy of holies was the innermost sanctuary of the temple.  Our Almighty God, Himself, filled the holy of holies with His presence and glory as He appeared in a cloud above the mercy seat on top of the ark of the covenant.  The veil served a very important purpose and signified something we need to understand:  God is Holy!  You cannot come casually into His presence in whatever way you please!  Only the high priest could go behind the veil, only once per year, and only after taking the blood of goats and calves which he would offer for his own sins and the sins of the people. If the high priest entered behind the veil without first being consecrated, as God prescribed, He would surely die (Leviticus 16:1-2).  No one can come into the presence of God without first being made holy. 

What a shock it must have been to the people of that day when the veil was torn in two from top to bottom.  Why did this happen?  What did it have to do with the death of Jesus?  There is profound significance in the tearing of the veil, as we are told in Hebrews chapter 10: “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh…” (Hebrews 10:19-20 NASB).  The tearing of the veil signified that you and I can go into the very presence of our Holy God with confidence.  We can enter the true throne room of God in Heaven!   There is no longer any separation between Him and us!  We can draw near to Him!  This is all because of the blood of Jesus.  God made the way for us to come into His presence through the death of Jesus.

We need to understand that when the church assembles together for worship, we are entering into the presence of our Almighty God.  Have you considered this fact?  How should we respond to this spiritual reality?  “Let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29 NASB)     

—Scott Colvin


December 4, 2021

I was teaching Ecclesiastes 1 in an adult, Sunday morning class. My focus had been on some of the key terms in chapter one: vanity/lit. vapor, gain, under the sun, and chasing the wind. When I had a student comment on verse 4: “but the earth remains forever.” Then he said, “That’s not true.” He was thinking of the following passages.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness… (2 Peter 3:10–11, NASB)

My reply was the word translated eternal in Hebrew is ꜥolam. This word has a wider range of meaning than our word eternal. It certainly does mean eternal in many contexts, but it can also mean for a very long time.

After class, I did some checking. Certainly “forever” is a consistent reading with our major translations: KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, ESV, NRSV, CSB. But the NET Bible has a different translation. If you are not familiar with the NET Bible, it is an evangelical translation that is noted for their very helpful translation notes. These notes bring Greek and Hebrew information to English readers. Even for those of us who access Greek and Hebrew resources, the notes provide concise statements of various translation issues, and the notes provide a good place to point others to for such information. The NET reads:

“but the earth remains the same through the ages.”
(Ecclesiastes 1:4, NET)

The note on this verse gives the explanation for a different reading.

The term עוֹלָם (ꜥolam) has a wide range of meanings: (1) indefinite time: “long time, duration,” often “eternal” or “eternity”; (2) future time: “things to come”; and (3) past time: “a long time back,” that is, the dark age of prehistory (HALOT 798-99 s.v. ‏עוֹלָם‎; BDB 761-63 s.v. III ‏עלם‎). It may also denote an indefinite period of “continuous existence” (BDB 762 s.v. III ‏עלם 2.b). It is used in this sense in reference to things that remain the same for long periods: the earth (Eccl 1:4), the heavens (Ps 148:6), ruined cities (Isa 25:2; 32:14), ruined lands (Jer 18:16), nations (Isa 47:7), families (Ps 49:12; Isa 14:20), the dynasty of Saul (1 Sam 13:13), the house of Eli (2 Sam 2:30), continual enmity between nations (Ezek 25:15; 35:5), the exclusion of certain nations from the assembly (Deut 23:4; Neh 13:1), a perpetual reproach (Ps 78:66). NET Bible notes on Ecclesiastes 1:4.

Getting a handle on the range of meaning for the Hebrew word, ꜥolam, may help us in some passages which would otherwise perplex us.

— Russ Holden