“By The Spirit Given To Us” (1 John 3: 18, ESV) by Carley Evans

Love not in talk but in deed, says the author of 1 John. “Whoever does not love abides in death.” (1 John 3: 14) If we love one another, then we know we are passed from death into life. “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our hearts before Him.” (1 John 3: 19)

When we feel unworthy, when “our heart condemns us,” we know that “God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.” (1 John 3: 20) God knows His own; He hand-picked us. He knows us thoroughly, even the dark places we hide from others and from ourselves. He commands us to “believe in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another.” (1 John 3: 23) As we believe in Jesus, as we love one another, we “abide in God, and God in [us.] (1 John 3: 24)

We live through Jesus. His love emerges from us and flows into the world, being especially available to “the brothers.” We know all this “by the Spirit whom He has given us.” (1 John 3: 24)

“Love Covers Sins” (Matthew 22: 37 – 39, ESV) by Carley Evans

Jesus tells us the first and greatest command is “to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The second is like it; that command is to love your neighbor as yourself.

All the Law and the Prophets depend upon these two great commands of God; and both find their basis in love: love of God, love of others.

Obviously, Jesus loves His Father enough to obey Him, sacrificing His own human life for the purpose of God — that is our salvation: redemption, sanctification, glorification. Jesus often speaks of loving His friends enough to die for them. And, after speaking of this, He does indeed die for them and for us.

Your neighbor may be friend, may be enemy — but, you are commanded to love him whichever way he treats you. Your love of neighbor is a small reflection of the love which Jesus pours out on you. Your love of God the Father is tiny in measure when compared to Jesus’ love of His Father.

Love does no harm; and does not push its own way. “Keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4: 8)

“Love Made Manifest” (1 John 4: 9, ESV) by Carley Evans

How does God show His love of us? He sends His only Son to earth as a baby, allows two flawed humans to raise Him, sends Him into the wilderness to contend with our adversary, asks Him to travel — preaching and healing — for three years; then commands Him to sacrifice Himself to a terrible, slow death and to the darkness of separation from His own glory.

“In this the love of God is made manifest among us, that God sends His only Son into the world, so that we may live through Him.” (1 John 4: 9)

We live through Jesus. Make no mistake, we do not live through our own power. Our lives are powerful only through the finished work of Jesus the Christ.

“Fully Convinced After A Laugh” (Romans 4: 20, ESV) by Carley Evans

Abram is “fully convinced that God is able to do what He promises.” (Romans 4: 21) Though his body is a hundred years old and his wife, Sarah is post-menopausal; (Genesis 18: 11) yet Abram “does not weaken in faith.” (Romans 4: 19)

“No distrust makes him waver concerning the promise of God.” (Romans 4: 20)

Instead, Abram “grows strong in his faith as he gives glory to God.” (Romans 4: 20)

Giving God the glory is the method through which Abram becomes “fully convinced” and unwavering in his belief in God’s promise to make him “the father of many nations.” (Romans 4: 18)

Both Abram and Sarai laugh as each hears God’s pronouncement that Sarai will bear Abram a son. Abram falls on his face and laughs when God tells him. (Genesis 17: 17) whereas Sarai laughs from within the tent as she hears the three angels announce to her husband that she is to be with child.(Genesis 18: 12)

The Lord challenges Abram, saying, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18: 14)

Sarai denies her laughter, but God reminds her — “No, but you did laugh.” (Genesis 18: 15)

Abram and Sarai change names at God’s command. Abraham circumcises himself at ninety-nine years of age. Sarah bears a son at ninety-one years of age. Through these two people, the new covenant begins. (Genesis 17: 21)

First, a scoffing laughter; then an unwavering belief.

“To Know What Surpasses Knowledge” (Ephesians 3: 18, ESV) by Carley Evans

Do you know that we need the strength of the Holy Spirit Himself “to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” As we are “strengthened with power through His Spirit in [our] inner beings,” (Ephesians 3: 16) we are then “filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3: 19)

We become new creations through Christ’s sacrificial death and through the power of the Holy Spirit with whom we are sealed. Simply put, the seal of the Holy Spirit is akin to indelible ink, an ink which appears from the inside out.

The Holy Spirit is a fire within our hearts, an unquenchable fire who marks everything we are — what we think, what we say, what we do. The Holy Spirit “roots and grounds us in love” and makes it possible for “Christ [to] dwell in [our] hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3: 17)

Do you know that without the powerful seal of the Holy Spirit, we are lost? He keeps us steadfast, directing our hearts toward God the Father through Jesus Christ, the Son. Without Him, we do not choose to follow Christ’s way; instead, we chomp at the bit the way a stubborn horse might.

Without the Holy Spirit, we are incapable of knowing that which surpasses knowledge — we can not know God nor the depth of His love of us. Be grateful for God, the Holy Spirit — He seals us for the day of our redemption.

“A Zeal For God” (Romans 9: 32, ESV) by Carley Evans

Righteousness pursued “as if it is based on works” does not result in the attainment of that righteousness, says Paul.

A zeal for God is not enough. The cornerstone, who is Jesus Christ, makes those who seek God under their own power, stumble.

“For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they do not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10: 3 – 4)

We do not bring Jesus down nor do we rise up to Him; instead His “Word is near [us], in [our] mouths and in [our] hearts.” (Romans 10: 8)

Our righteousness is based on faith alone.

“A Life Of Gratitude” (Romans 9: 16, ESV) by Carley Evans

Our salvation depends not on our will or our exertion, but on God’s willingness to be merciful. If God is not willing to provide us with His mercy, then we are already condemned by our sinful nature, which we recognize as “the fall.”

Without God’s powerful calling, we do not respond to Christ’s sacrifice; rather we run in the opposite direction.

God, the Holy Spirit draws us to Himself. He empowers us with ability to see our sins and to know we need Jesus’ sacrificial death and powerful resurrection so that we might live new lives in God’s grace.

John writes that we “are born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1: 13)

And the author of Hebrews reminds us that “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11: 6)

From whence comes the faith which is required to please God? This faith is a gift which does not come from our parents, nor our friends, nor certainly from our adversary; rather our faith is a gift from God Himself. He gives us this precious faith to believe Him, to know that He exists and to
choose to follow Him.

For our part, we live in gratitude.