“God Holds Your Hand” (Psalm 37: 5, HCSB) by Carley Evans

“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” (Psalm 37: 4)

“Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him.” (Psalm 37: 7)

‘Silence before God’ implies a deep relaxation in faith that God is in control, that His will for your life is perfect, that He knows the plans He has made for you, plans for good.

The psalmist tells you, “Do not be agitated.” For “the humble will inherit the land and will enjoy abundant prosperity.” (Psalm 37: 8, 11) But David also writes that “the little that the righteous man has is better than the abundance of many wicked people.” (Psalm 37: 16)

David reassures you that “a man’s steps are established by the Lord, and He takes pleasure in his way. Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, because the Lord holds his hand.” (Psalm 37: 23 – 24)

I tell you now that God is holding your hand; He leads you in His way — the way of everlasting life.

“Cleansed From The Past” (2 Peter 1: 4, HCSB) by Carley Evans

God’s “divine power” gives us everything, writes Peter, that we need in order to have life and holiness. God gives us everything through knowledge of Him — that is, through our relationship with Him–and calls us to Himself “by His own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1: 3) In turn His glory and goodness allow us to “share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.”

God calls us. He supplies us with His own divine power and allows us to share in His divine nature. Therefore, says Peter, we should “make every effort to confirm [our] calling and election” (2 Peter 1: 10) We should “make every effort to supplement [our] faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1: 7)

As we confirm our election by living these qualities, we find that we remember that we are “cleansed from [our] past sins” and that we are not “useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1: 9, 8)

Don’t be “blind and shortsighted.” (2 Peter 1: 9)

Remember that Jesus Christ dies for you, that He lives forever to intercede for you, that He calls you with His own goodness and glory, provides you His divine power and grants you a portion of His glory and nature.

“God’s Loyalty” (Deuteronomy 7: 9, HCSB) by Carley Evans

God brings His people “out with a strong hand and redeems [them] from the place of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 7: 8) Moses tells the people of God to “know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keep His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations to those who love Him and keep His commands.”

“For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be His own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 7: 6)

When you prosper, warns Moses, do not say to yourself that “[your] own power and [your] own ability gains this wealth for [you], but remember that the Lord your God gives you power to gain wealth, in order to confirm His covenant.” (Deuteronomy 8: 17 – 18)

When you face enemies, trials, persecutions, challenges, doubts — “understand that…the Lord your God will cross over ahead of you as a consuming fire; He will devastate and subdue.” (Deuteronomy 9: 3) But, “do not say to yourself, ‘The Lord brings me in to take possession of this…because of my righteousness.'” (Deuteronomy 9: 4) Moses says twice that the Lord “is not giving you this good…to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.” (Deuteronomy 9: 6)

“Keep in mind that the Lord your God disciplines you just as a man disciplines his son.” (Deuteronomy 8: 5)

Moses says to us, “Keep the commands of the Lord your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into…good.” (Deuteronomy 8: 6 – 7)

“Commit To What Is Good” (1 Peter 3: 15, HCSB) by Carley Evans

Peter calls us to “honor the Messiah as Lord in [our] hearts.” As we do so, we will “be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks [us] for a reason for the hope that is in [us.]” This defense of our hope, however, is to be done “with gentleness and respect” so that our consciences are kept clear.

We are not to suffer for doing evil, but only for doing good. (1 Peter 3: 17) Peter challenges us: “who harms you if you are deeply committed to what is good?” (1 Peter 3: 13) implying that it is unusual to suffer for behaving toward others in a good manner. Christians who suffer at the hands of others often provoke this menace through their own arrogance, anger, frustration, and holier-than-you attitude. Peter calls us to defend our hope gently, respectfully, kindly.

“Therefore, since Christ suffers in the flesh, equip yourself also with the same resolve — because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin — in order to live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s will.” (1 Peter 4: 1 – 2)

And, if you live for God’s will — that is, for the good of others — then it is unlikely you will suffer as Christ suffers. If you do, make certain your suffering is not for “doing what the pagans choose to do.” (1 Peter 4: 3) Make it your aim to be gentle and respectful as you give the reasons for your faith in the Messiah, Jesus.

“To The Praise Of His Glorious Grace” (2 Timothy 1: 9, HCSB) by Carley Evans

We are saved before time begins in Christ Jesus who is with God and is God. As John writes, “In the beginning is the Word, and the Word is with God, and the Word is God.” (John 1: 1)

Paul tells us that our salvation is not due to our works, but completely rests on Christ’s finished work, which is God’s purpose and will.

“For [God] chooses us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestines us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favors us with in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1: 4 – 6)

Paul calls us to be strong in God’s grace, keeping ourselves from entanglement in the affairs of the world so that we are “set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2: 1, 21)

For the good works we do are prepared in advance for us by our Heavenly Father, and performed by the power of His Holy Spirit through the grace of His Beloved Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

“Strength Through Weakness” (2 Corinthians 12: 9 – 10, HCSB) by Carley Evans

Paul, of all people, boasts in his weaknesses. He even writes that he “takes pleasure” in them, recognizing that when he is “weak, then [he] is strong.”

How is this possible? In weaknesses, strength is perfected through the grace afforded by Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father — i.e. through the works and persons of the Godhead.

Paul claims that his physical [or perhaps psychological] weakness, his “thorn in the flesh” remains in order that he “not exalt [himself].” (2 Corinthians 12: 7) Within his weaknesses, including “insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and pressures,” Paul finds God’s “grace is sufficient for [him].”

Weakness remains in order that we not exalt ourselves, in order that we do not think more of ourselves than we ought.

Paul prays, “that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.” (Ephesians 1: 18 – 19)

“Our Comfort Also Overflows” (2 Corinthians 1: 3 – 4, HCSB) by Carley Evans

Paul strongly reminds us that God is “the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction.”

As we receive comfort in all troubled situations, so we are able and expected to comfort others as they face any affliction.

“For since [Jesus] Himself is tested and suffers, He is able to help those who are tested.” (Hebrews 2: 18) Since He helps us in our sufferings, we should help others as they face hardships.

Often the best person to aid another in a troubled place is the one who has been in that same difficulty. Unless you have experienced a particular hardship, it is impossible to honestly say to the other, “I understand how you feel.”

Additionally, God expects us to show others mercy as He is merciful to us. How can we hold a grudge against another when Jesus so readily forgives us our sins?

Jesus says, “{God] is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6: 35 – 37)

Let us remember that “as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows.” (2 Corinthians 1: 5)

“The Way Everlasting” (Psalm 139: 23 – 24, ESV) by Carley Evans

Who is it who leads us in “way everlasting?” Is it ourselves? I think not. Instead, our prayer is that God Himself should “search [us], know [our] hearts, try [us] and know [our] thoughts.” Then, once He discovers those ways in us which are “grievous,” He should “lead [us]” out of them and into His pasture, His way.

Jesus says, “I Am the way, the truth, and the life.”

And He promises that anyone who comes to Him will never thirst again.

“Saved From The Wrath Of God” (Luke 23: 34, ESV) by Carley Evans

If Jesus is able, while suffocating on the cross, to ask His Father to forgive those who are crucifying Him, then how much more is He able and willing to intercede for us, for those whom He has chosen as His own.

“For while we are still weak, at the right time Christ dies for the ungodly.” (Romans 5: 6)

“Since, therefore, we are justified by His blood, how much more are we saved by Him from the wrath of God.” (Romans 5: 9)

I find little sense in the argument that God is unwilling to save those who disobey Him. He dies for those who disobey. He sheds His blood precisely because we are disobedient children whom He wishes to bring back home.

The father of the prodigal son sees his son “while he is still a long way off.” (Luke 15: 20) This brokenhearted father runs to embrace his son and kiss him. God runs to us, wanting to embrace and kiss us and kill the fatted calf for us. He does not begrudge us His love.

Instead, God dies for us while we are still His enemies. “If while we are enemies we are reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, are we saved by His life.” (Romans 5: 10)

“With Perfect Faithfulness” (Isaiah 25: 1, HCSB) by Carley Evans

“Yahweh, You are my God; I will exalt You. I will praise Your Name, for You have accomplished wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.” (Isaiah 25: 1, Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Why is anyone surprised or bewildered that God plans? Why are we taken aback by God having created us knowing we would fall, having allowed the serpent to tempt us, having driven us from Eden, having planned our salvation? Why does it irk us that God makes choices? Is He not in complete control? Is He not sovereign? Does He not have the final say in any matter?

“For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Or who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid?” (Romans 11: 34 – 35)

The way around bewilderment or even resentment that God is in control is to recognize that everything He does is done “with perfect faithfulness.” In God’s sovereignty there is no error.