Gifted (1)

1 Corinthians 12:11 NCV

The Bible says, ‘There are different kinds of gifts, but they are all from the same Spirit’ (v.4 NCV). The word ‘gifts’ comes from the Hebrew word ‘charis’, which literally means grace. That means we can’t earn, qualify for, work for, or deserve a spiritual gift. The Holy Spirit ‘decides what to give each person.’ We don’t receive our spiritual gifts through study, practice, or inheritance. They’re not even highly developed natural talents. They are characteristics and attributes given by grace, which enable us to carry out God’s will in God’s way.

We’re not designed to serve God by just drawing on our own strength and abilities, but by depending on the power of the Holy Spirit within us. It can help to picture a gloved hand. A glove on its own can’t really do anything useful. It’s only when there’s a hand inside the glove that it can really fulfil its purpose. We’re like the glove – we can’t accomplish much by ourselves. But when we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us, He can move us and enable us to accomplish what God wants us to do.

When we think about the plans God has for us, we might worry that we won’t meet His standards. But the truth is that He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. If we were, He wouldn’t have needed to send Jesus to secure our salvation. Jesus told His disciples, ‘If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5 NIV). We need to allow the Spirit to work within us, lean on God’s power, and keep our hearts completely open to Him.

Isa 8-11; Matt 9:1-13; Ps 89:38-52; Prov 3:1-2

Heaven (2)

1 Corinthians 15:55 NLT

How can we know that God has a place for us with Him in heaven? In John 14, Jesus said: ‘”Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am’ (v.1-3 NLT). Romans 6:23 says: ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (NIV).

Because of sin, death became part of our world, but Jesus chose to die for all our sins and paid the price for us. That doesn’t mean we won’t experience death, but it does mean that if we accept God’s gift of salvation, we can take our place with Him in heaven.

As Jesus was dying on the cross, one of the criminals said to Him: ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’ (Luke 23:42 NIV). Because of his faith and acceptance of who Jesus was, Jesus promised him: ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’ (v.43 NIV). We don’t know what crime he had committed, but it would have been a serious one. But his past didn’t matter – what mattered was that He repented and accepted Jesus. Because of Jesus’ victory over death, we can join in with saying ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ We can have confidence that, no matter what our past might be like, when we call out to God and accept salvation, He’ll have a pace for us and welcome us to heaven.

Jos 1-4; John 15:18-27; Ps 65; Prov 28:17-20

God wants you to succeed (2)

3 John 1:2 NKJV

Jesus said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36 NKJV). And to drive home His point, He told the story of a rich man who died and went to hell, while a poor man on his doorstep went to heaven. Bottom line: Nothing is more important than your salvation! But God also has a plan for your life, and He wants you to succeed. John writes, “I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” Note the phrase “in all things.” That includes your health, your mental and emotional well-being, your family and relationships, your career and finances. “All things” means – all things! There’s not an area of your life that God is not interested in or that He won’t get involved in when you seek Him, obey Him, and honour Him. In the Old Testament, He said, “Keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all…you do” (Deuteronomy 29:9 NKJV). And in the New Testament, Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV). Aren’t you totally invested in the success of your children? When they succeed in life, don’t you celebrate with them? Well, as His redeemed child, your heavenly Father is invested in your success and celebrates it with you. So start praying and believing Him today for success in all your endeavors.

Soul food: 2 Cor 1-4; Luke 22:63-71; Ps 39; Prov 21:9-13

Joseph’s coats (1)

Genesis 37:3 NIV

Let’s look at the three different coats Joseph wore, as they present a picture of our lives as Christians. The first coat is the coat of salvation. It was a ‘gift’ from his father; Joseph never paid a penny for it, or sewed a stitch, or provided an inch of fabric. And that sounds a lot like the story of our salvation. The Bible says, ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast’ (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV). Motivated by jealousy and resentment, Joseph’s brothers threw him into a pit and dipped his coat in the blood of a goat in order to convince their father that he had been killed by a wild animal. The Bible says: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7 NKJV). In Old Testament times, when someone sinned they brought a sacrificial lamb to the altar and the priest shed its blood as payment for their sins. But the priest did not examine the person, he examined the lamb. If the lamb was ‘worthy’, the person was accepted and their sins were atoned for. So the moment we acknowledge our sin and pray, ‘Father, I come in the name of Jesus, the Lamb of God,’ we’re totally forgiven and accepted. ‘Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need’ (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV).

Eze 27:25-30:26; Luke 21:12-24; Ps 78:32-39; Prov 20:20-21

Your daily “spiritual supplements”

2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV

Christian counselor Dr. Ann Shorb writes, “Each morning I reach for an assortment of nutritional supplements. Each has something I need, but not one by itself is enough to provide everything.” Here are the “spiritual supplements” she says she takes: (1) His death on the cross is sufficient for my salvation: “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him…He…lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25 NKJV). (2) His strength is sufficient for my weakness: “He gives strength to those who are tired and more power to those who are weak” (Isaiah 40:29 NCV). (3) His authority is sufficient for my struggles: Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and…earth. Go therefore” (Matthew 28:18 NKJV). (4) His power is sufficient to restore me: “The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises…all who are bowed down” (Psalm 145:14 NKJV). (5) His wisdom and knowledge are sufficient to direct me: “He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10 NKJV). (6) His grace is sufficient for all my needs: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV). Sometimes you’ll hear Psalm 51:12 quoted as “Restore unto me the joy of my salvation,” instead of “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.” There’s a big difference! My salvation means me working to be saved and never knowing if I’ve done enough. Thy salvation depends totally on Christ’s finished work on Calvary. It acknowledges that while we’ll never be “sufficient of ourselves…our sufficiency is from God.”

Soul food: Acts 27-28; Luke 10:13-24; Ps 78:17-31; Prov 16:26-30