“Bear With One Another” (Romans 15: 7, NIV, ESV) by Carley Evans

“(Therefore) accept (welcome) one another, then as Christ accepts (welcomes) you, for the glory of God (in order to bring praise to God.)” Romans 15: 7, NIV (ESV)

Accept one another, says Paul. We are to welcome each other as Christ welcomes us. As Jesus, our Lord, willingly receives us into His Kingdom, so we are to make way for one another, receiving each other willingly.

Paul commands us to “bear with the failings of the weak.” (Romans 15: 1, ESV) He tells us to “please [our] neighbor for his good, to build him up.” (Romans 15: 2)

How different this is than the remarkable levels of criticism we hear from one another. As Paul says, “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” (Romans 14: 5) As long as we are acting “in honor of the Lord” and giving “thanks to God” then we must not “pass judgment on [our brothers].” (Romans 14: 6, 10)

Rather than “despise [our] brother,” we should remember that “we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” (Romans 14: 10) “Each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14: 12)

Believe me, we will not be giving an account of our brother or sister in Christ!

“Rich In Mercy” (Titus 3: 4 – 5, ESV) by Carley Evans

Because of God’s loving kindness and His complete goodness, a Savior appears to us. He saves us, “not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.”

Webster’s Vest Pocket Dictionary defines “mercy” as “show of pity or leniency” or “divine blessing.”

In his letter to Titus, Paul identifies himself as “a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with holiness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began.” (Titus 1: 1 – 2)

So, God, “who never lies,” promises to save us. He promises this “before the ages begin.” He decides to bless us with His mercy even before we fall into sin.

Paul writes to the Ephesian church, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1: 3 – 6)

Paul mentions God’s blessing of us four times here in the opening of his letter to the Ephesians — this blessing by God is our salvation by grace and transformation into holy and blameless people of the Beloved by that same grace.

“God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loves us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, makes us alive together with Christ — by grace you are saved — and raises us up with Him and seats us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2: 4 – 6)

For “mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2: 13)

“The New Life Fits” (Ephesians 4: 24, ESV) – Carley Evans

The New Life Fits (Ephesians 4: 24, ESV) by Carley Evans
“Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness,” writes Paul. Webster’s Vest Pocket Dictionary defines “put” as “bring to a specified position or condition.” A perfect description of what God expects us to do; we are to bring ourselves into the condition specified for us by God Himself — we are to put on true righteousness, who is Jesus Christ. We are to put on His holiness. Webster’s also defines “put” as “cause to be used or employed.” We are to use Christ’s righteousness as our own.

The truth is not only that we are positionally holy; we are truly righteous because Christ is righteous and He dwells fully in us through His Holy Spirit, the Helper.

We put off the old self “which belongs to [our] former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires.” (Ephesians 4: 22) We are then “renewed in the spirit of [our] minds.” (Ephesians 4: 23)

Our action is both a negative and a positive — we put off the old; we put on the new. The old is a foreign way of living while the new life fits us best because we belong to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

“Two Steps” (Ezekiel 20: 43 – 44) – Carley Evans

Two Steps (Ezekiel 20: 43 – 44) by Carley Evans
Salvation in two straightforward steps here in Ezekiel: the first step is “and you shall loathe yourself for all the evils that you have committed;” and the second step is “and you shall know that I Am the Lord, when I deal with you for My Name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds.”

God says, “As a pleasing aroma I will accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered. And I will manifest My Holiness among you in the sight of the nations. And you shall know that I Am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 20: 41 – 42)

“[You] shall not defile [yourselves] anymore with [your] idols and [your] detestable things, or with any of [your] transgressions. But I will save [you] from all [your] back-slidings in which [you] have sinned, and will cleanse [you]; and [you] shall be My People, and I will be [your] God. My Servant, David shall be King over [you], and [you] shall all have One Shepherd . [You] shall walk in My rules and shall be careful to obey My statutes…and David, My Servant shall be [your] Prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with [you]. It shall be an everlasting covenant with [you].” (Ezekiel 37: 23 – 24, 26)

Recognize, accept your core unworthiness — your sin. Then, recognize, accept God’s willingness and ability to forgive and to make you His own.

“Partakers of Grace” (Philippians 1: 6 – 7, ESV) – Carley Evans

Paul and Timothy write to the saints, all the saints, of Philippi. Paul thanks God for their “partnership in the gospel.” (Philippians 1: 5) He is emphatic that the Holy Spirit, “who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Paul knows that it is correct for him to feel this way about all of these saints at Philippi for they “are all partakers with me of grace.”

Like the men and women of Philippi, we are saints; we are partakers of grace. The Holy Spirit has begun a good work in us which He will complete on the day Jesus Christ returns.

Paul prays that as saints, our “love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment” so that we “may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” Paul prays we are “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1: 9, 10, 11)

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the sake of the gospel.” (Philippians 1: 27)

“Be Glad” (Joel 2: 23, ESV) – Carley Evans

“Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for He has given the early rain for your vindication; He has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.”

Our vindication is our exoneration, our justification. We receive it from God, as before. He pours His abundant love, His cleansing rain, onto us so that we might be glad and rejoice in Him and in His gift of salvation.

Joel predicts, “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the Name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you.” God says, “And My people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I Am in the midst of Israel, and that I Am the Lord your God and there is none else.” (Joel 2: 26 – 27)