“Like A Refiner’s Fire” (James 1: 2 – 3, ESV) by Carley Evans


“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness,” writes James “to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion.” James further writes that the full effect of steadfastness is perfection, so that we are “lacking in nothing.” (James 1: 4)

God is “like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap. He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He purifies the sons of Levi and refines them like gold and silver, and they bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.” (Malachi 3: 2 – 3)

Trials are common to humankind; not one of us escapes them. The son of David writes,”Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, both to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and to him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. This is an evil in all the is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all.” (Ecclesiastes 9: 1 – 3)

Very few are able to count trials as joy. But Christians “know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom [God] foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8: 28 – 29) If we are to be “conformed to the image of [God’s] Son,” then we must be refined. The process of refinement is often painful as the dross of our daily lives is burnt off, melted away through adversity. Adversity makes as stronger, if we submit to it and learn from it. “In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other.” (Ecclesiastes 7: 14)

The manner in which we respond to the days of adversity is key — if we trust that God is at work in us for His good pleasure, to perfect us; then we are able to count those times of suffering as joy.

“Whatever You Wish” (Matthew 7: 12, ESV) by Carley Evans


Jesus says, “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” Everything in the Law, everything in the Prophets points to and contains this one rule.

Have you given a gift to someone only to discover later that they did not care for it? Was this gift something you wanted to buy for yourself? Did you instead buy it for another person, wrap it, and give it away, secretly wishing someone would give you that very gift? This is love despite the fact that the other person did not, could not fully appreciate your small act of self-denial.

The character, Wesley in THE PRINCESS BRIDE says to Princess Buttercup, “As you wish” to indicate to her that he loves her enough to do whatever she wishes. He sets his own agenda aside and waits upon her desires.

Jesus calls us to examine situations and figure what we would wish in that particular circumstance; then do for others that wish.

You see a man on a cold January morning going through trash cans at a gas station, and you have filled your car with gasoline. Do you drive away? Or do you think about being cold, hungry, perhaps frightened for the coming night when the temperature will drop even more? Do you invite him to your home? Perhaps. Perhaps you do a simpler deed — approach him, ask him if he’d like some breakfast.

“Just coffee.”

“Cream, sugar?”

“Black.”

You stroll into the store, get the coffee, and think about being hungry. You pick out several power bars. The tab comes to five dollars.

You take the food and coffee to the man, who thanks you.

No matter what the circumstance, there is a small gift of love you can give. Of course, there is much more to give. Giving what you can is better than giving nothing.

Jesus loves many people who never appreciate His love. They do not even know He loves them; that He gives His very life for them. Jesus gives His all. Few of us have ever given our all.

Whatever you wish, give.

“A Way Out” (1 Corinthians 10: 13, ESV) by Carley Evans


We are without excuse. When we sin, we miss — by ignoring or outright refusing — the way out provided by God. We are not able to say, when we are tempted, that it is God. Rather, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1: 14 – 15)

When tempted by desire, we ought to expect the way out we know is provided by our loving Father. As we anticipate our desire, we also should anticipate the sin blossoming within it, and ready ourselves for the path of escape.

I don’t think God means for the way of escape to be difficult to find. God also does “not let [us] be tempted beyond [our] ability.”

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4: 15 – 16)

“Go Out In Joy” (Philippians 2: 14 – 16, ESV) by Carley Evans


How do we become blameless and pure and shine like stars in a crooked and depraved generation? Paul says we become such by “doing all things without grumbling or questioning” and by “holding fast to the Word of Life.”

If we hold fast or cling to the Word of God, then we are prepared in every situation so that in a sense nothing surprises us. We are never caught off guard. If we hold fast to God’s Word, then we have no cause to question, complain, grumble about our circumstances.

Paul writes for us to “rejoice in the Lord.” He calls us not to a life of complaining, grumbling, arguing, back-biting, envying, striving, hating, cheating, lying, self-loathing; but to a life of rejoicing in the Lord. We of all people are to be joyful.

“For you shall go out in joy.” (Isaiah 55: 12)

“Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16: 22)

“My Heart Is Awake” (Galatians 5: 16, ESV) by Carley Evans


The answer is simple. “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

“By faith Moses, when he is grown up, refuses to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considers the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he is looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11: 24 – 26)

“For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other.” (Galatians 5: 17)

“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5: 24)

Yet, “I sleep, but my heart is awake. A sound! My beloved is knocking, ‘Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one, for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.’ I put off my garment; how can I put it on? I have bathed my feet; how can I soil them? My beloved puts his hand to the latch, and my heart is thrilled within me. I arise to open to my beloved, and my hands drip with liquid myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt.” (Song of Solomon 5: 2 – 5)

“In Those Days” (Mark 13: 19, ESV) by Carley Evans


Usually I do not write about “end times,” as I tend to think what is happening right now is so much more important than what is going to happen at the end of the world. Yet, this is not to imply by any means that what is going to happen in the end is not important!

Jesus speaks of “those days” often.

He says, “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” (Mark 13: 24 – 25)

First, says Jesus, comes tribulation – terrible and final. “For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be.” (Mark 13: 19) False prophets and men who claim to be God appear, and deceive many. Nations rise up against each other as do brothers and sisters, parents and children.

In more ways than one, the world is dark when Jesus comes again. He prays that this time will not be in winter. He acknowledges that God, in His mercy, will cut short the tribulation “for the sake of the elect, whom He chose.” (Mark 13: 20)

When Jesus comes, angels will go out into heaven and into the world to “gather His elect.” (Mark 13: 27)

“Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13: 33)

“Even Demons Believe” (John 8: 31 – 32, ESV) by Carley Evans


Jesus speaks to the scribes and Pharisees, telling each that He is the light of the world, that He is going away and that they will not find Him when they seek Him; instead they “will die in [their] sin.” (John 8: 21)

“As He is saying these things, many believe in Him.” (John 8: 30)

He tells the Jews who believe in Him, “If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

These same Jews who believe in Him nevertheless do not accept that they need Him. They protest, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone.” (John 8: 33)

Jesus tells them they are slaves to sin. He tells them they “do what [they] hear from [their] father.” (John 8: 38) They claim Abraham as their father. Jesus tells them that the devil is their father. “The reason you do not hear [the Words of God] is that you are not of God.” (John 8: 47)

These Jews who believe in Him say He has a demon. They say He can not possibly be greater than Abraham. Jesus claims, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” (John 8: 58)

“So [the Jews who believe in Him] pick up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hides Himself and goes out of the temple.” (John 8: 59)

“Love One Another” (1 John 4: 20 – 21, ESV) by Carley Evans


“We love because He first loves us.” (1 John 4: 19) And God’s love is perfect. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4: 18)

What is there to fear? God loves us.

And how can we not love one another? The author of 1 John reminds us that if we are not able to love our brothers and sisters with whom we interact, how can we possibly love God whom we can not see? If we believe in Christ, then we must also love those who also believe in Him. They are our kin; our blood relations. We are parts of the same Body, the church itself.

The reason we have so much pain is that we strive against each other, calling each other names when the only Name we need use toward one another is Jesus Christ’s.

“By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (1 John 3: 16)

“Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3: 18)

“Walk in the same way in which [Jesus] walks.” (1 John 2: 6)

Jesus says, ” ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once more He bends down and writes on the ground. But when [the crowd] hear it, they go away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus is left alone with the woman standing before Him. Jesus stands up and says to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She says, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus says, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’ ” (John 8: 7 – 11)

The old know first not to condemn another.

“All This From God” (2 Corinthians 5: 19 – 20, ESV) by Carley Evans


Sometimes we seem to forget that God reconciles the world to Himself via His Son, Jesus Christ. We seem to be under the impression that somehow we individually reconcile ourselves to God through Jesus Christ, His Son.

“All this is from God,” writes Paul, “who through Christ reconciles us to Himself.” (2 Corinthians 5: 18)

Paul does not write, “All this is from you, who — through Christ — reconcile yourself to God” as if Christ’s sacrificial work is secondary to your effort.

If we love God, it is only because He loves us first. In a way, it is as if God loves Himself via His Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

Paul’s message to us is one “of reconciliation, of “God not counting [our] trespasses against [us].” If God decides not to hold our sins against us, why are we so keen to hold them against each other? Why do we forget our sins are nailed forever on the Cross of Calvary?

“Clothed With Christ” (Galatians 3: 26 – 28, ESV) by Carley Evans


Clothing covers our bodies, protects us from the elements, adds style to our daily lives, keeps us from exposing ourselves to others who may not want to know us that well. We don clothing, which is a volitional act. Some will power is involved. We stand in front of our closets or our chest of drawers and we select items to wear. Once donned, we decide whether to wear them or not on that particular day. We leave them in place or we take them off.

We are clothed with Christ. He puts Himself on us as well as within us. But we also act in this dressing of ourselves by and with Him. He chooses us; and we allow Him His choice. We allow Him to live in us and to clothe us with Himself.

Salvation is both a “putting in” and a “putting on” of Christ both by Himself and by us.

Once we are clothed with Christ, in one sense we all rather look alike — we look like Him. Yet, we each are dressed by and in Him in unique ways with particular talents or spiritual gifts. Just as Paul says, we are individual parts of the greater Body of Christ, each of value, each amazingly unique yet like Him.

Perhaps when we stand in front of the mirror, we ought to recognize that we can choose to take off the outer layers of Christ and stand ‘naked’ before the world; but we can’t take Christ out of ourselves and put Him back in the closet. He remains within us. He clothes us from the inside out.