“And Now, Why Do You Wait?” (Acts 22: 16, ESV) by Carley Evans

Saul is struck blind on the road to Damascus by the Holy Spirit, who appears as “a great light from heaven.” (Acts 22: 6) He is called out by God — challenged to explain why he is persecuting the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus commands Saul to go into Damascus. “There you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.” (Acts 22: 10)

Saul obeys. In Damascus, Saul is greeted by Ananias who commands, “Receive your sight.” (Acts 22: 13) Not only this, but Ananias tells Saul that he will be privileged to hear the voice of God, to know His righteous will, to see the Righteous One, and to be a witness for Him to everyone! (Acts 22: 14, 15)

In the light of all this, Ananias asks, “And now, why do you wait?”

Once we hear and believe, why do we wait? The next step is to “rise and be baptized and wash away [our] sins, calling on His Name.” (Acts 22: 16)

Peter preaches to the men of Judea at Pentecost, and “when they heard… they were cut to the heart.” (Acts 2: 37) They cry out, “Brother, what shall we do?” (Acts 2: 37) Peter tells them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.” (Acts 2: 38 – 39)

God calls you to repentance; He commands you to be baptized and to receive the Holy Spirit. And now, why do you wait?

“The Signs Of The Virgin Birth And of Jonah” (Isaiah 7: 14, ESV) by Carley Evans

God tells Ahaz to ask for a sign. But Ahaz responds, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.”

So, Isaiah tells Ahaz and us that God will give a sign. “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey when He knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.” (Isaiah 7: 14 – 15)

The Son of God comes as “a great light.” (Isaiah 9: 2) He comes as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9: 6)

When Mary and Joseph present their son as holy to the Lord on the eighth day of his life — offering a pair of turtledoves — Simeon, a “righteous and devout” man who is “waiting for the consolation of Israel,” sees Jesus. When Simeon sees the Christ child, he takes Him in his arms, saying: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your Word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation for the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel.” (Luke 2: 25, 29 – 32)

Simeon lays eyes on the sign which God promises to Ahaz, and which Ahaz does not request.

Simeon tells Mary, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed, so that the thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2: 34, 35)

Jesus is a sign that is opposed.

Jesus Himself warns, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” (Matthew 16: 4)

The two signs God gives us are the virgin birth of Jesus and the resurrection of Christ.

“Beware Of Sheep’s Clothing” (Deuteronomy 18: 15, ESV) by Carley Evans

God warns us not to speak “presumptuously.” We are not to presume that we speak “a word” from the Lord. “When a prophet speaks in the Name of the Lord, if the Word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken.” (Deuteronomy 18: 22)

God tells us we “need not be afraid of him,” of the one who has presumed to speak for God. (Deuteronomy 18: 22)

God forbids certain practices in the prediction of the future, including divination, fortune-telling, interpretation of omens, sorcery, necromancy, seances. Whereas God at one time spoke to us directly, the Lord says He will provide a prophet who is like Him. He says, “I will put My Words in his mouth, and he shall speak.” (Deuteronomy 18: 18) We are to listen to the Words of a true prophet. We are to test the prophecy and the prophet, however.

Jesus says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7: 15 – 16) Further He warns, “On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and do many mighty works in Your Name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’ ” (Matthew 7: 22 – 23)

False prophets may very well do “mighty works,” but remain inwardly “ravenous wolves.” The mighty work may emerge from a practice which God forbids, or from motives not at all related to heaven’s calling.

God says, “That same prophet shall die.” (Deuteronomy 18: 20)

“The Vine” (John 15: 4 – 5, 7 – 8; ESV) by Carley Evans

A branch fallen to the ground is either already dead or is in the process of dying. Soon that branch will be perfect kindling for a fire. If the branch remains on the vine, then the sap of the vine keeps that branch alive and productive. Rather than being perfect firewood, the branch is the perfect receptacle for the fruit of the vine.

Jesus compares Himself to the vine and calls us the branches. Without Jesus, we are dead. Without Jesus, we bear no fruit.

“As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me,” says Jesus.

“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.”

Naturally a branch on a vine will produce the fruit of that vine; naturally Jesus’ disciples will produce the fruit of the Spirit, which “is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5: 22 – 23)

“Clean Inside And Out” (Psalm 51: 7, ESV) by Carley Evans

David asks God to purge him with hyssop. To purge is to “evacuate from the bowels”; hyssop is an herb which may have been used by the Hebrews for indigestion. At any rate, the image is of cleaning the body and the self from the inside out. David also asks God to wash him, so that he will “be whiter than snow.” David desires to be clean inside and out.

He sings, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love, according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” (Psalm 51: 1 – 3) “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51: 10 – 11)

“You Know The Way” (John 14: 6, ESV) by Carley Evans

Jesus tells His disciples, “You know the way to where I am going.” But Thomas challenges this, saying, “How can we know the way?” (John 14: 4, 5)

Jesus then tells Thomas, “I Am the way, and the truth, and the life.” And He adds, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Thomas expresses his own consternation, “Lord, we do not know where You are going.” (John 14: 5)

To where is Jesus going? He is going to the garden to pray for release from His mission and to submit to that mission as it is the will of His Father. He is then going to court, to bear jeers and beatings. Then He is going to the Cross, to suffer a physical death at the hands of men. Ultimately He is going to the Father to prepare a place for Thomas, to prepare a place for each of us who believe.

Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, where are You going?” (John 13: 36) Jesus tells Peter that he is unable to follow now, but only later will be able to follow Him. Peter protests. Jesus tells Peter a truth too horrid for Peter to grasp — that Peter will deny his Lord three times before a rooster crows twice.

In the next breath, Jesus tells His friends not to be troubled. “Believe in God; believe also in Me.” (John 14: 1)

Jesus says that we know the way — He is the way. He tells us we cannot follow Him, that we will deny Him at some point. He implies we will repent, and that once we have, He will use us to strengthen others.

He tells us not to be troubled — to trust that He goes to prepare a place for us; and that He will return for us. He tells us that the path is not easy, but that the burden is nevertheless light.

“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I Am you may be also. And you know the way to where I Am going.” (John 14: 3 – 4)

“Passed Out Of Death” (John 11: 25, ESV) by Carley Evans

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.” (1 John 3: 14)

Lazarus is dead; he lies in his grave, his body spiced and wrapped. He has been in the grave four days when Jesus arrives in Bethany. Martha meets Jesus as He approaches, saying to Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.” (John 11: 21) Jesus tells Martha that Lazarus will rise again. Martha figures Jesus is referring to the future resurrection to occur on the last day. But Jesus says, “I Am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

The life Jesus gives is for the present time.

Jesus finds Mary weeping, and He is “deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled.” (John 11: 33) He weeps with Mary. At Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus commands the stone to be moved from the cave where Lazarus’ body is entombed. Martha is concerned about decay and odor for her brother has been dead four days. Jesus is focused on His heavenly Father’s glory. He calls Lazarus to come out. Lazarus does. Jesus says to Mary, Martha and others, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11: 44)

Jesus unbinds us from the grip of death; He loosens the ties and lets us go. “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15: 55)

Jesus loves us. He tells us, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15: 13) He says, “I came that [My friends] may have life and have it abundantly. I Am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10: 10 – 11)

“Like A Good Shepherd” (John 10: 14 – 15, ESV) by Carley Evans

Jesus compares Himself to a good shepherd. A shepherd knows his flock; he knows each of the sheep of his flock. He worries over each one, protecting each from wolf, starvation, wandering. If one wanders away from the others, then the shepherd seeks it out, brings it back into the fold.

Jesus says that He knows His own sheep, and His sheep know Him. We know His voice as He knows ours. Each of us is uniquely His. No one is like the other, but we are each specially and wonderfully made by Him. We are His possessions, for He created us.

Jesus tells us that just as the Father knows Him, and just as He knows His Father; so He knows us, and we know Him.

Like a good shepherd defending his sheep from wolf or lion, so Jesus defends us against our adversary, the wolf in sheep’s clothing or the lion who prowls about us, seeking one to devour.

“Come Out Of The Dark” (John 8: 12, ESV) by Carley Evans

Jesus tells us He is the bread of life and that as we believe in Him, so we will live eternally, raised up with and by Him on the last day. He also tells us that as we “follow [Him], [we] will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

“Come, follow Me,” Jesus says to His disciples. We believe and we follow.

In darkness, it’s hard to see. True, eventually, the eyes adjust and sight is easier. But what is seen is vague and the truth is not easily perceived. In light, all is visible. Everything is clear.

Life is hard enough as it is; why walk through it in the dark?

“Nothing Lost Of All That Is Given Him” (John 6: 35, ESV) by Carley Evans

Do you know you don’t have to go hungry? Do you know you don’t have to feel thirst? Your stomach may be empty, your tongue may be parched; but you don’t need to feel like you are dehydrated and starving. You won’t thirst or starve for attention, peace, love, success, fulfillment, or joy once you have come to fully believe and trust in Jesus.

As a matter of fact, Jesus says, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on the last day.” (John 6: 38 – 39)

God isn’t going to lose you. He is going to raise you up on the last day. Jesus says, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6: 40)

In order to gain this gift of eternal life, we need only believe on the Son of God, Jesus Christ. How do we believe? Jesus tells us, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6: 44)

Jesus repeats Himself, saying three times that He will raise us up on the last day. A fourth and even a fifth time, He tells us, “Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6: 51, 58) And this after Jesus calls Himself the bread of life; and says that we will “live because of [Him].” (John 6: 57) He also says that “whoever believes has eternal life.” (John 6: 47)

Those whom God has drawn to Jesus, Jesus will not lose. He will keep us; and raise us up on the last day, just as He promises. For God can not lie.