“This, Not Of Ourselves” (John 3: 20 – 21, ESV) by Carley Evans


If we are in God, then our actions are of the Light, of God Himself. This is how we are able to come to and stand in the Light of the World. We have identified ourselves as belonging to that Light. Hence we no longer hide from the Light; we step into it so that our deeds are exposed as being not our own, but His. Our deeds are deeds of Light; of Goodness and do not emanate from us, but from the Son of God and from His Holy Spirit who is within us. For, from out of our hearts, come goodness and mercy, love and kindness, peace and holiness. And this, not of ourselves, but of God, lest any of us should suddenly be inclined to boast. 

Those who remain in the darkness of hell, of sin — they hide from the Light for the Light of the world exposes all that does not belong to Him, all that stands outside of His Holy Spirit and His domain of influence. Those in the darkness do hide from the Light so that their deeds will not be exposed for what they are — rubbish, worthless acts, doomed deeds. These are destined to be burned up, to float away as ash on the winds of destruction.

Let us rejoice for “we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” (Hebrews 10: 39, ESV)

“Seek Him First” (Matthew 6: 33, ESV) by Carley Evans


Try to find His kingdom, try to obtain His righteousness first — before all other considerations in your life. Everything else will then be provided. A straightforward formula, if you will.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7: 7 – 8)

If Christ stands at the door and knocks, and you — who are seeking Him with your whole heart — open the door; then He will find you and you will find Him.

Jesus says, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3: 19 – 20)

Because He loves us, He will discipline us.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29: 11 – 13)

As Jesus reminds us, what parent when her child asks for a fish gives the apple of her eye a stone instead?

“How To Be Saved” (Romans 10: 10, ESV) by Carley Evans


Tracts are dropped on your desk, front door, mailbox — SAVED? they ask. Everything, of course, depends upon your answer to this simple question.

Paul writes that if you believe in your heart, you are justified. The Oxford English Mini-dictionary defines ‘believe’ as ‘accept as true, think, suppose’ and ‘feel sure of the worth of.’ And, the same dictionary defines ‘justify’ as ‘show to be right or reasonable.’ So, if you are sure of Jesus Christ, if you accept Him as being true and worthy, you are shown to be right. You are reasonable, having come to a correct conclusion.

Paul further writes that if you confess with your mouth, then you are saved. Webster’s Vest Pocket Dictionary defines ‘confess’ as both ‘acknowledge one’s fault or misdeed’ and ‘declare faith in.’ The same dictionary defines ‘save’ as ‘rescue from danger, guard from destruction, redeem from sin’ and also ‘set aside as a reserve.’ So, if you acknowledge your need for salvation and your faith in Jesus Christ and His provision for that sin, then you will be set aside for God who then guards you from destruction, rescues you from danger, and redeems you from your sins.

Amen.

“Avoid Worthless Counsel” (Isaiah 47: 12 – 14, ESV) by Carley Evans


Avoid the horoscope, the Tarot, the palm reader, witchcraft — these are not only abominations, they are worthless. These will not counsel you, save you; “behold, they are like stubble; the fire consumes them; they cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame. No coal for warming oneself [are these]; no fire to sit before!”

You can not receive or find comfort in “your enchantments and your many sorceries, with which you have labored from your youth; perhaps you may be able to succeed; perhaps you may inspire terror.”

Yet, these will not save you. “Evil will come upon you, which you will not know how to charm away; disaster shall fall upon you, or which you will not be able to atone; and ruin shall come upon you suddenly; of which you know nothing.” (Isaiah 47: 11)

You will not see disaster coming because Tarot cards and palm readings are blind —
You will not find atonement because witchcraft and sorcery are opposed to the Holy One who died for us —

God says, “For My Name’s sake, I defer My anger; for the sake of My praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I do it, for how should My Name be profaned? My Glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48: 9 – 11)

“Draw near to Me,” says God, your Redeemer. “Hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there.” (Isaiah 48: 16) “I Am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48: 17)

Therefore, there is no need for divination.

“Stop Sinning!” (Hebrews 10: 30 – 31, ESV) by Carley Evans


God demands that we stop sinning. We are not to deliberately go on sinning, choosing to do that which we know is against His will. The author of Hebrews warns us that our punishment will be worse than the punishment of those who “set aside the law of Moses” who “died without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” The witnesses against us, God’s people, are Jesus, the new Covenant, and the Spirit of grace. If we spurn Jesus, who is the Son of God; if we profane the blood of the new Covenant; if we outrage the Spirit, then we will discover that indeed “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

The Israelites wander around in the desert for forty years because of their grumbling and disobedience. God continues to feed them His Manna, but He frustrates their plans and prevents them from entering His Sabbath rest. These persons must continue to wander, essentially in circles, with fear, trembling, distrust, self-loathing, and anger. Many die.

“For who are those who hear and yet rebel? Is it not all those who leave Egypt led by Moses? And with whom is He provoked for forty years? Is it not with those who sin, whose bodies fall in the wilderness? And to whom does He swear that they will not enter His rest, but to those who are disobedient? So we see that they are unable to enter because of unbelief.” (Hebrews 3: 16 – 19)

Therefore, today when you hear God’s voice, when He calls you — obey. For it is indeed a fearful thing to fall into the hands of our living God.

“So Shall It Be” (Isaiah 14: 24, ESV) by Carley Evans


“The Lord of Hosts has sworn: ‘As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.”

The Oxford English Mini-dictionary defines a “plan” as a “method thought out in advance;” and, defines “to purpose” as “to intend to act.”

So the Lord of Hosts takes an oath. He swears, “As I have thought out in advance, so shall it come to pass, and as I have intended to act, so shall that action stand.”

Here the Lord declares His sovereignty. He tells us that He has a well thought out plan, a purpose filled with good intentions. All He thinks comes to pass. His method endures, is valid, is unmovable.

All we need do is trust Him.

“If Anyone Does Sin” (1 John 2: 1, ESV) by Carley Evans


The author of 1 John writes, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

We are not to live in sin, but if we do fall into sin, then we must remain confident that Jesus is advocating for us because “He always lives to intercede.” Additionally, “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…according to the will of God.” (Romans 8: 26 – 27)

Jesus — whether standing before His Father and our Father or sitting beside Him at His right hand — is a shield for us from the wrath of His Father. The anger and hatred of sin which God the Father possesses fell upon Jesus’ body as He remained on the cross of Calvary. Jesus did not remove Himself from this suffering, but stayed the course, bearing its shame and the weight of the sin of the world.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1: 9)

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1: 28)

“Hold Firm Our Trust” (Hebrews 10: 35 – 36, ESV) by Carley Evans


“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”

The author of Hebrews exhorts us to hold onto our firm trust, our boldness, our certainty about Jesus Christ because this confidence provides us “a great reward.” We need our faith to tolerate moments of introspection or doubt so that we are able to do “the will of God that [we] may receive what is promised.”

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10: 19 – 23)

Our confidence is due to “the blood of Jesus.” Through Christ’s torn flesh, we are able to enter into God’s most holy places and draw close to Him “in full assurance of faith.” Our consciences are clean and so are our bodies. So, we should “hold fast” to our hope. We must realize that God is faithful and never lies. What He promises, He accomplishes.

“To Be Perfect” (Romans 5: 3 – 4, ESV) by Carley Evans


“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

“That which does not kill us makes us strong,” says one of the characters in the play, STEEL MAGNOLIAS. The character says this to a mother who has lost her young daughter. This mother says, “No. No. I’m not ready for this. I was supposed to go first. I was supposed to go first.”

So often, we are not ready for the tragedies which befall us. They blind-side us. Somehow, we forget that life is hard, and that everyone suffers. We seem surprised when bad things happen, and ask “why?” We forget that the real question is “why not?”

James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1: 2 – 4)

To be perfect, complete and lacking nothing, Jesus suffered. “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5: 7 – 10)

As Jesus suffered, so shall we. Counting our sufferings as joys is the most difficult task we face. Look back on your life; see if it isn’t true — true that after a particularly difficult time, you found a new strength, a new happiness, a new peacefulness you did not fully know or appreciate before your time of testing, of trial, of suffering.

“Endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5: 4 – 5)

“That The King May Come In” (Psalm 24, ESV) by Carley Evans


This psalm of David came to me in a different way than many others. In the Christian Book of Prayer, this psalm is one of several which opens the day. As in the early church, one may choose to pray at several specific times of the twenty four hour day, and one does not have to be Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Calvinist, Armenian, or…oh, Episcopalian…to pray in such a manner.

In Acts, the disciples come together at specific hours to pray. On the day of Pentecost, they are all together in the same place. It is sometime before 9 a.m. (Acts 2: 15). Presumably, the disciples are meeting for communal prayer and worship. Another day, Peter and John go to the temple “at the time of prayer — at three in the afternoon.” (Acts 3: 1) So, for early Christians, certain times of the day are set aside for prayer.

I remember the first time I prayed this psalm as a prayer. I was surprised with awe. Open your Bible. Read it aloud to God.

David claims that the world and all that dwells here is the Lord’s. David asks, “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His Holy Place?” And, he answers, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.”

Immediately after, David speaks of “the King of Glory.”

“Lift up your hands, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of Glory may come in.”

David asks, “Who is this King of Glory?” and answers, “The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, mighty in battle!…Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of Glory!”

The King of Glory is “who shall ascend the hill of the Lord and who shall stand in His Holy Place.” We are “the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.”

“Lift up your heads, O gates! That the King of Glory may come in.”