Gracious Gifts from Heaven

February 22, 2022

“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11, NASB)

Are you aware that if you are in Christ—and therefore part of His church—you have been graced with a gift from heaven?  Notice in the above passage that there is no question about this truth.  “As each one has received a special gift…” Each member of the Lord’s church has received a spiritual gift from Christ, including you!  This is not something you have earned; it is a gift!

What are we to do with the gifts Christ has given us?  First, notice that Peter says we are to use them in serving one another.  They are to be used to help and build up the body of Christ.  Second, notice that God expects us to be good stewards of His gracious gifts.  That means that we need to be using whatever gift He has blessed us with!  To bury our gift in the sand is to be a poor steward of His grace.  Finally, note that we are to use our gifts to glorify God.  Our gifts are not to be used in a self-glorifying or self-promoting way.  We are never to boast in our gifts or to think of ourselves as superior in any way.  Whatever talents or abilities we have were freely bestowed upon us by the Lord, and it is all because of His grace!  Our gifts have nothing to do with our own goodness, power, skill, or any such thing.

Have you given any thought about what spiritual gift the Lord has given you?    There are many examples of spiritual gifts that we can find in scripture.  In the above passage, we see that speaking and serving are gifts from God.  In other passages we see that wisdom, knowledge, faith, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, and showing mercy are examples of spiritual gifts (see Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:7-10). 

What is your gift from God?  In what ways are you using it?  As each of us use our gift to serve others for His glory, God will bless us, fill us, and cause the church to grow.  May each of us take part in the work God is trying to accomplish in us!

—Scott Colvin

Be Holy in All Your Behavior

February 9, 2022

Striving for a life of holiness is of utmost importance for us as the children of God.  God did not send His Son to save us from the power of sin so that we could just go back to living how we always lived.  The holiness of God demands that we live holy lives. 

The Spirit, through Peter, makes this very clear to us.  “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am Holy.’” (1 Peter 1:14-16, NASB).  God wants us to be obedient children by no longer being conformed to our former lusts.  To be conformed is to be shaped and molded by something.  We need to stop being shaped and molded by the sinful desires that used to drive us.  We need to stop being conformed to the shape of this world.  Now that we are in Christ, God is calling us to be holy in all our behavior.  God is holy, and He expects us to be holy.

What does it mean for us to be holy?  It means to be set apart to God.  It means to be set apart from the world around us.  It means to be set apart from our former sinful pursuits.  Simply put, it means that we are supposed to be different now!  Because of the gift of Jesus—His death and resurrection—we are not supposed to think, speak, or act in the same way anymore. Let me ask you, is your life in Christ appreciably different from your former life?  Can people detect that you are different from the world around you?    

Holy living is a very serious thing to our Holy Father.  He gave His all so that we could be holy in His sight.  Now that He has made us holy, let us pursue holiness realizing that we were redeemed from our former life at countless cost, “with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:19, NASB)    

—Scott Colvin

Glimpses of Heaven

February 4, 2022

The Book of Revelation is difficult reading. Yet, Revelation is also rewarding. Five major and contradictory approaches to Revelation can be found in the religious world. Such facts can boggle the mind, yet I think there are some simple guidelines for reading the book. Read Revelation for what it says about itself, rather than what others say about it. Read Revelation in light of the rest of scripture. Scripture is its own best interpreter. If all we get from Revelation is that Satan will be defeated and God wins, then we’ve understood the major lesson. Passages may puzzle us, but some things are crystal clear. Among the clear things is the fact that John gives us glimpses into heaven.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:9-17, ESV

Heaven is assured by the teaching and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Revelation, John gives evidence for heaven and glimpses of our future hope.

Heaven answers a deep longing. With C.S. Lewis we too cry, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”* Christ conquered death, and so will the Christian. Paradise lost in the garden will be paradise regained in heaven.

Heaven gives purpose. The person who most fully believes in heaven will also be the one who most faithfully lives for the Lord in daily life.

— Russ Holden

*C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 120