Monday, December 22, 2008

Gifts and Graces

You know how God just suddenly surprises you with an answer, long past when you were hoping for one and long after you have given up expectation that you will get an answer? I am going to share my answer. It might not make as much sense to others as it does to me, but it is still glorious to consider. The answer came unexpectedly while I was reading last night in my year long journey through J.I Packer's book, "A Quest for Godliness." He is summarizing John Owen's writings on spiritual gifts.

"Do we deplore that so little of the life of God appears in our souls? Is it our complaint that our gifts are so small? Use your gifts and graces, such as they are, to stir each other up to exercise, Owen is saying, and you will have more of both. Do we seek to grow in grace through the exercise of our gifts? When we speak to others of the things of God, do we seek to feed our own souls on the same truths? Equally, do we seek to increase our gifts through stirring up our hearts to seek God? When we speak of divine things to others, and lead them in prayer, do we seek to feel the reality of the things we speak of? Small gifts may have great usefulness when backed by honest, sincere feeling and unaffected holiness. Are we depressed about our Christian service, finding it largely barren and ourselves largely impotent? Let us go back to our God for wisdom to learn how his grace and gifts in us may help each other. Covet earnestly the best gifts--and with them a humble, loving heart. This is the way of growth and fruitfulness."

I am reminded from 1 Corinthians 12-14 that the greatest gift is love. That is what we should earnestly be desiring and coveting as a gift from God to exercise by His grace. I have long been convinced that to live the Christian life, especially the challenging lifestyle of a large home educating family, requires us to live by 2 commandments. Love God with all our heart, soul, and mind; and love our neighbors (the nearest ones being our spouses and children ) as we love ourselves. Love is the KEY and Grace is the need and answer.

God's gifts to us are to be used-by His grace-to equip the saints, build the body of Christ, and to encourage and comfort one another. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35) So my prayer is that God will teach me and my family "how his grace and gifts in us may help each other." When we learn this and practice this more faithfully, then we will be living a clearer and more powerful picture of Christ and His gospel than anything else we could ever do and we will see the growth and fruitfulness that we so desire.

---posted by Queen Lucy

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