“Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be gloried through Jesus Christ in everything.” (1 Peter 4:10-11, HCSB).
In Parts 1 and 2 of this meditation on grace, we learned from the Hebrews writer in Chapter 12 that God’s redemptive plan is for us to enter into fellowship with Him through a relationship or covenant based on receiving God’s grace through Christ. God didn’t intend to institute a permanent ritual sacrificial system under Old Testament law.
The Hebrews writer admonishes us to actively hold on to God’s grace when we receive it and allow it to become the source of our strength for serving God and His Kingdom. In fact, God’s sovereignty can best exert its rule and reign over our lives when Christ is manifested in our lives as a result of holding on to the grace God has shown us.
While the Hebrews writer tells us to hold on to grace to see us through all the circumstances of life, the Apostle Peter says we are also the managers of God’s grace that rules over our lives. According to Peter, God gives us grace, but it is our duty to manage it, to extend it to others!
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“However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ….As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4: 7,16, NLT).
These verses are the opening and closing of a section in which the Apostle Paul describes the spiritual giftings or specialties God bestows “to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (vs. 12).
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“It is beyond my power to do this, Joseph replied. But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.” Pharaoh had two dreams and no one could interpret them for him. Pharaoh’s cupbearer remembered about Joseph interpreting his dream when they were in prison together and told Pharaoh. Pharaoh had Joseph brought to him and asked if he could interpret his dreams. Joseph recognized that God had given Pharaoh the dreams for a purpose. Therefore, God could tell what Pharaoh’s dreams meant and Joseph was confident that God would do so to accomplish His will. Joseph was so filled with the Spirit and wisdom of God that it was apparent to Pharaoh and his officials: “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” (vs. 38). Because Joseph was full of God’s Spirit, he recognized that God was at work and he joined with God in what he was doing. We each have God’s Spirit in us and like Joseph, by the unction of the Spirit, we should be able to recognize what God is doing within and around our lives and we should join with Him by exercising the gifts and talents He has given to each of us. “So Jesus explained, I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does” (John 5:19).
“I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” These verses are referenced by Peter in his sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:25-28) and Paul in a sermon in the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia (Acts 13:35). In both cases the apostles were applying the reference to the resurrection of Jesus. We can anticipate living in the presence and pleasures of God forever because the resurrected Messiah gives us hope and assurance for our own resurrection: “Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back” (I Corinthians 15:22-23). It’s interesting that Peter quotes these verses on the day of Pentecost when the powerful presence of God was experienced by the disciples when the Holy Spirit came upon them. The presence of God in our lives by the Holy Spirit links our present life with resurrection and future life: “And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us” (Romans 8:23). The indwelling Holy Spirit, the presence of God with us, is but a prelude to a future glorious life where we live fully in God’s presence in resurrection bodies and we will enjoy the pleasures of living with God forever!
“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” The Greek word for “home” (monē meaning dwelling place) used in this verse is the same word used for for “many rooms” in vs. 2 of this chapter: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” In vs. 2 Jesus gives the assurance that each of His followers has an eternal dwelling place with Him and He is going there to prepare it. In vs. 23 Jesus and the Father come to dwell (by the Holy Spirit) with those who love Him and keep His word so that His followers can prepare for their eternal dwelling place: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (vs. 15-16). Jesus gives us an assurance for this life that there is an assurance of eternal life with Him. The Holy Spirit (and Father and Son) dwell with us to help prepare us for our eternal life with Them. In other words, you will dwell with God then because He dwells with you now so that you will be prepared to live eternally in the place Jesus has prepared for you!
“By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” The Apostle Paul told Timothy to safeguard the gifts of the Holy Spirit that God had given him. Paul wanted Timothy to be bold in using the gifts of ministry entrusted to him through the in-dwelling power and presence of the Holy Spirit. We, like Timothy, are all like branch banks with whom God makes a deposit of His Holy Spirit for safe-keeping in our lives. We safeguard the gifts and grace of God entrusted to us by using them! A bank doesn’t make money by keeping all its deposits in the vault. A bank makes money by putting its deposits to work making loans and investments. Remember the teaching of Jesus in the parable of the talents. A master left money for each of his servants while he was gone on a long journey. Two servants invested the money and made more for their master while the other buried the money in a hole in the ground. The servants that invested the money were considered faithful and were entrusted with more responsibility while the other servant was considered unfaithful and sent away. Jesus said, “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Matthew 25:29). To be faithful in the Kingdom of God, you must be profitable. Put the gifts of the Holy Spirit entrusted to you by God to work for the growth of His Kingdom.