“One Faith” (Ephesians 4: 2, ESV) by Carley Evans

We are commanded to “bear with one another in love.” We are to be “humble and gentle, with patience” in our dealings with one another. Paul implies here that sometimes other Christians may be irritating, divisive, argumentative, critical.

Paul wants us to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4: 3) Again, he implies here that sometimes we do not have unity in the body of Christ as we ought.

Of course, this should be painfully obvious to us today. We have a myriad of denominations in the greater Church, each with some crucial (or worse) miniscule difference from another. The Roman Catholic church maintains that the greatest sin is this division in the Body of Christ, the true Church. This is hard to argue against. I know Paul agrees.

“There is one body and one Spirit — just as you are called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and in all.” (Ephesians 4: 4 – 6)

The aim, the upward call of God is that “we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4: 13)

“The Least Is Greater” (Mark 9: 35, ESV) by Carley Evans

Jesus says that as we receive, accept, help, love a child in His Name, we simultaneously receive, accept, help and love Him. What we do for the least in God’s world we do for Him.

As we become “last of all and servant of all,” we come to reflect Jesus. Reflecting Jesus to others makes us first in the world.

Jesus tells His disciples that they have power over spirits, but He tells them not to rejoice in this power, but to be glad and grateful that their “names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10: 16)

He reminds them that though John the baptist is the greatest man ever born of woman, the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater.

Satan fell from heaven, and in the eyes of the world is the greatest ‘being’ here, ruling it firmly. Yet, the least in the kingdom of God is greater.

“He Seeks Us” (John 4: 24, ESV) by Carley Evans

At Jacob’s well Jesus tells the woman of Samaria that “the Father is seeking such people to worship Him;” people who worship Him “in spirit and in truth.” God seeks people to worship Him in spirit because He is spirit. He seeks people to worship Him in truth because He is the truth.

Jesus seeks out this woman who has had five different ‘husbands.’ He seeks her out by asking her, “Give Me a drink.” (John 4: 7) She knows how odd this is, that a Jewish man would approach a Samaritan woman. Jesus tells her pointedly that He is the “gift of God;” that He is “living water.” He tells her: “the water that I will give [you] will become in [you] a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4: 14)

Jesus tells her that it is not the location where we worship that matters — whether “on this mountain [or] in Jerusalem.” (John 4: 21) Instead, we worship God in the heart, in the mind, in the spirit because God dwells within His people.

Jesus’ disciples “marvel that he is talking with a woman, but no one says, ‘What do You seek?’ or ‘Why are You talking with her?’

What is Jesus seeking? Why does He speak with this woman — with this Samaritan woman?

“You worship what you do not know,” He tells her. (John 4: 22) Yet, He says, the day has arrived when “the true worshipers worship the Father in spirit and truth.” (John 4: 23)

You, He tells her, are a true worshiper if you accept this truth I give to you: “I who speak to you am He [the Messiah]” who “tells you all things.” (John 4: 26, 25)

“Under His Net” (Hosea 7: 8, ESV) by Carley Evans

To be a cake not turned; an oven in which the fire is not stirred; to be “a dove, silly and without sense calling” for its bondage to return; to be ones who “return, but not upward.” Of these God says, “As they go, I will spread over them My net; I will bring them down like birds of the heavens; I will discipline them.” (Hosea 7: 11, 12)

“Do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of His reproof, for the Lord reproves him who He loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3: 11)

The author of Hebrews encourages us: “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Then, the author quotes the aforementioned verse, and adds: “It is discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.” (Hebrews 12: 4, 7 – 10)

“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” (Hebrews 12: 12)

“Stand Firm” (Ephesians 6: 12 – 13, ESV) by Carley Evans

According to Paul, our battle is not against our own flesh, but against spiritual forces of evil. He strongly suggests that we “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” (Ephesians 6: 10)

Note we are to be strong in His might, not our own. We are weak; He is strong. The melody, “Jesus Loves Me” gets this right. “Therefore,” writes Paul, “take up the whole armor of God.” (Ephesians 6: 13) This armor consists of truth, righteousness, and the gospel of peace. Our shield is our faith. Our helmet is our salvation. Our sword is the Word of God. Prayer binds the whole armor to us, so that we are “able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6: 13)

Paul says,”We are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4: 15 – 16)

Our armor is made complete in love. “If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13: 2)

“Evil Lies Close At Hand” (Galatians 6: 1, ESV) by Carley Evans

Paul calls those “who are spiritual” to “restore” “anyone caught in any transgression” “in a spirit of gentleness.” Some are caught in transgression as one caught in a trap. Others who are free of that trap should assist in that person’s rescue from sin. Yet, Paul warns that the one who is “spiritual” must “keep watch on [himself], lest [he] too be tempted.”

Everyone is subject to temptation; and temptation is not temptation if there is no chance of failure. If the Christian life is as easy as saying, “I am free of sin;” then why is there so much sin in our churches, in our homes, in our children, in our marriages, in our work places? Why do we struggle against the flesh if it has been totally crucified?

Paul writes of this, “I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7: 21 – 25)

Paul writes, “For whatever does not proceed form faith is sin.” (Romans 14: 22)

And, “do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14: 16 – 17)

The struggle is to maintain faith, to keep trust in God’s ultimate goodness, to believe that everything works together toward His perfection.

“Stand Firm In One Mind” (Philippians 4: 8, ESV) by Carley Evans

Paul calls us to be renew our minds by meditating on truth, honor, justice, purity, loveliness, commendation, excellence — “if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Paul asks us to “complete [his] joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2: 2) He desires us to “stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1: 27)

He knows that we have not been made “already perfect, but” that we “press on to make it [our] own, because Christ Jesus has made [us] His own.” Paul writes, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 12, 13 – 14)

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4: 4 – 7)

Strive in one spirit and one mind, side by side.

“Acting The Fool” (James 1: 5, ESV) by Carley Evans

If you are uncertain in a circumstance, if you feel perhaps you are acting the fool; then ask God for wisdom. As you ask God for wisdom, believe He gives this wonderful gift to you “without reproach.”

If you ask with a lack of faith, you know you are “double-minded, unstable in all [your] ways.” (James 1: 8) You are not likely to receive the wisdom you think you seek, for you actually are not seeking God’s wisdom but your own.

If you are “a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind,” (James 1: 6) then you are liable to believe false prophets, wayward friends, evil alliances, and your own self-will over and above God’s wisdom to which you are not attune.

Harden not your heart, but listen:

“Wisdom cries out in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: ‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.” (Proverbs 1: 20 – 23)

“All These Things” (Matthew 7: 7 – 8, ESV) by Carley Evans

Jesus encourages us to ask for the good we desire in our lives. He says, “Ask, and it will be given to you.” He says, “For everyone who asks receives.”

Ask not out of anxiety, for God is aware of our needs. “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6: 34)

God gives only good gifts. From His hand comes nothing which is less than perfect for us. “Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?” (Matthew 7: 9)

“Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6: 31 – 33)