Gifts and Earnings

By Linda Tancs

John Houseman was a British-American actor who became known for his commercials for the brokerage firm Smith Barney. He famously stated that they made money the old-fashioned way—they earned it. Of course, in the physical world, we work to earn a living, sometimes striving after the best that money can buy.

Thankfully, though, the most important things in life are not earned; you don’t have to punch a time clock to get them. They’re gifts from God. For instance, you receive salvation through Christ, not by your own works (Ephesians 2:8-9). You also receive peace. Jesus devised, gave and bequeathed His peace (John 14:27) to His followers, like a bequest under a will. It’s a gift, yours for the taking.

Receive your gifts with grace. They’re good and perfect (James 1:17), and there’s nothing old-fashioned about that.

The Time is Now

By Linda Tancs

“I’ll do it when” arises frequently as a response to situations in life. I’ll go back to school when all my bills are paid. I’ll take a nice vacation once I retire. I’ll get married once my career is established. In some instances, prudence may dictate that you wait before a certain action is taken. But maybe it’s possible that the time is now. Circumstances will rarely ever be perfect for action. Imagine how impaired our salvation would be if Jesus had waited for more “perfect” behavior before sacrificing His life for us. As Romans 5:8 reminds us, while we were yet sinners, He died for us. It’s a good thing He didn’t wait.

True Victory

By Linda Tancs

People claim victory in many ways. In the sports industry, it’s winning the game. In business, it’s that promotion, maybe even acceleration to the C-suite. Some even claim victory when they dispose of memorabilia from a bad marriage. Clearly, “victory” means different things to different people. But there’s only one true victory for the believer, the one earned through grace by His stripes (Isaiah 53:5). Thanks to the work done for us at the cross, we are winners in the game of everlasting life.

Where is Heaven?

By Linda Tancs

Where is Heaven? Heaven is where God is, our eternal home. But don’t just look up. Look around, too, because Heaven is all around you. As poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau put it, “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

In other words, it’s more than just a salvific concept. The kingdom of Heaven is God’s presence in our daily lives, a real-time experience. As Jesus said in the gospels of Matthew and Mark, the kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15). It comes in the most ordinary moments of life, when we bridge our gaps with others and when we gather in a community of faith. Chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel gives us Jesus’s examples of our collaborative role in Kingdom work. For instance, He likens the Kingdom to a mustard seed that we, the people, sow in a field. In other discourse, He likens the Kingdom to yeast that a woman mixes with flour to leaven (Matthew 13:31-35). In each case, God provides the tools for our fruitful use, showing us that salvation is not something we have to wait for; it’s something we can experience in our everyday lives. The same message underlies Luke’s understanding of salvation. The healing scenes he presents give us examples of what different expressions of salvation in daily life look like (Luke: 4:31-37; 4:38-44; 5:12-16; 5:17-26; 7:1-10; 7:11-17; 7:21; 7:21; 8:40-56; 9:37-45; 13:10-17; 17:11-19; and 18:35-43).

Move beyond an individualistic view of salvation and look for the communal aspects of it.