Ministers of God’s Grace

By Julian Wells

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Pet. 4:10-11 NIV)

I keep my Bible bookmarked at these verses. I have turned there so often through the years that the page is torn in the corner. These divinely inspired words from Peter keep me mindful of the awesome responsibility of correctly handling God’s Word, while also reminding me of the unlimited divine resources at my disposal.

Saint Augustine once said, “A Christian is a mind through which Christ thinks, a heart through which Christ loves, a voice through which Christ speaks, and a hand through which Christ helps.” When you consider the Christian life from that perspective, it clarifies the point Christ was making when He declared to His disciples, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12 NIV)

On the surface, that statement sounds ridiculous. And if we’re trying to live the life Christ calls on us to live in our own strength, indeed it is. But if we’re trying to live the Christian life in our own strength, we’re doing it all wrong.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV)

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Reflections On 2017

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV)

This verse from Peter’s first epistle stays bookmarked in my Bible. I have turned to it so often through years of teaching Bible study that the page is torn and smudged. It keeps me mindful of the awesome responsibility of teaching God’s Word and of how dependent I am upon the Holy Spirit to be effective in any area of ministry.

But somehow I lost sight of that earlier this year, leading to a six-month period in which I published no posts at all. That hiatus prevented me from reaching my writing goals for 2017. But God used that time to renew my focus and remind me why I began Ridgetop Reflections. I addressed those issues in Why I Writepublished in November.

For the third consecutive year, my most popular post was a tribute to a cherished member of my family. In 2015, it was A Tribute to MamaLast year, Hope in the Face of Affliction, a post about my brother, Ronnie, received the most views. This year, it was Remembering Paulette, my first attempt at poetry, which I published on my dear sister’s birthday. 2017 marked the tenth anniversary of her passing through the gates of Glory. (It has crossed my mind to start posting pictures of Mama, Paulette, and Ronnie with every post!)

Once again, I am deeply humbled that so many of you found my articles worthy of your time in 2017. I am especially appreciative of those who encouraged me with your comments and who shared my posts on social media. While I have to guard against letting those things corrupt my motivations for writing, they certainly fuel a fledgling writer’s soul.

Looking ahead to 2018, expect shorter, more frequent posts from me. My Bible reading plan this year involves less reading and more time digesting, reflecting, and sharing those reflections with my readers, keeping in mind those timeless words from Peter that head this post.

My prayer for you all in 2018 is the one offered by Peter at the end of his second epistle. May you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” If my posts contribute in some small way to that goal, then “To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18 ESV)

Happy New Year to you all!

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.” – Benjamin Franklin