“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.

“Regard Others As New Creations” (1 John 4: 11 – 12, ESV) by Carley Evans

The author of 1 John says that God’s “love is perfected in us.”

God is perfect; His love is perfect — lacking in nothing. How is it that His love is perfected in us?

Jesus says to His disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15: 13 – 14)

Jesus dies not to remain on the cross or in the grave; instead Jesus is raised to live both in us and at the right hand of God the Father, where He intercedes for us. His love is expressed to us from heaven, but it is also expressed through us as we love one another on earth. In this sense, God’s love is perfected in us.

Paul says that no one dies for an enemy, and that hardly anyone dies even for a friend; but Jesus does both — He dies for His friends even when we are still enemies. (Romans 5: 6 – 8)

What is Jesus’ command? He commands us to love one another as He loves us.

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we conclude this: that one dies for all, therefore all die; and He dies for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake dies and is raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh…Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is passed away; behold, the new is come.” (2 Corinthians 5: 14 – 17)

“Never Separate From The Love Of Christ” (Romans 8: 35, 37; ESV) by Carley Evans

Paul declares unequivocally that nothing is able to separate us from the love of Christ, who “is the One who dies — more than that, who is raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (Romans 8: 34)

If Christ is indeed our constant intercessor, how is it possible for us to be separated from His love? Paul maintains that it is not possible, saying, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, is able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 38 – 39)

Paul is sure. He is convinced. He knows that Jesus intercedes for us. One who intercedes on our behalf does not turn and condemn us.

Paul says, “It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn?” (Romans 8: 33, 34)

There is no comparison between the one who justifies and the one who tries to condemn. The one who justifies us is God Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ. The one who condemns is our enemy, the one who fell from heaven, the one crushed by Eve’s seed even as he bruises her seed’s heel

Let us rejoice — God is for us; who can succeed against us?

“The Good News” (Romans 10: 11, John 14: 6; ESV) by Carley Evans

Paul writes, “For the Scripture says, ‘ Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.’ ”

Jesus says, “I Am the Truth, the Way, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Paul writes, “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.” (Romans 10: 8)

Our hearts carry our belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior. With our mouths, we confess our belief. As we privately believe and publicly confess this belief, we are first justified and then saved. “For everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10: 13)

Salvation can’t be that simple, say many. Paul says it is.

Words may emerge from the mouth, but if the heart does not hold the belief behind the words, they do not save. The heart may believe, but if the mouth fails to confess openly this belief before others, then that belief is fruitless.

Paul says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10: 10 – 11)

Then Paul reminds us “how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10: 15)