“Believe And Confess” (Romans 10: 9 – 10, HCSB) by Carley Evans

A zeal for God which ignores “the righteousness from God” and “attempts to establish [its] own righteousness” is not a saving zeal, writes Paul. The Jews of his day are relying upon their obedience to the law and the prophets for their salvation; while Paul is exhorting, “The righteousness that comes from God” is your salvation.

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

He promises, “Everyone who believes on Him is not put to shame.” (Romans 10: 11) “For everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord is saved.” (Romans 10: 13)

“This is the message of faith that we proclaim: If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raises Him from the dead, you are saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.”

Submit yourself to God’s righteousness. His method of snatching you from death may seem counterproductive or too easy; but if you know you have need of God’s gift, then accept it. He does not deny us. He says, “Allow the little children to come to Me, for of such is the Kingdom of God.”

Our faith is close to us; in our hearts and in our mouths. We believe; we confess. God forgives.

“Directing Our Course” (Isaiah 48: 17, NIV & ESV) by Carley Evans

Directing Our Course (Isaiah 48: 17, NIV & ESV) by Carley Evans
Friday, September 4, 2009 at 7:03am

God says that He is the Lord, reminding us that He is our Redeemer; that He is Holy. He says, “I Am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you (NIV), who teaches you to profit (ESV).” He also tells us, “I Am the Lord your God, who directs you in the way you should go (NIV), who leads you in the way you should go. (ESV)”

Webster’s Vest Pocket Dictionary defines “direct” as “cause to move or follow a certain course,” “show (someone) the way,” “regulate the activities or course of,” “request with authority.” The verb “lead” is defined as “direct or run on a course,” “go at the head of,” and “bring or tend to a definite result.”

God has an ultimate result in His Mind; He has a certain course, a definitive way. He certainly knows what is best for us. He is most assuredly holy. Above all, He has the authority.

“Profit” is defined as “valuable return” or “gain.” God says He teaches us to gain. He expects us to gain a valuable return for His investment in us. God expects not only what is best for us, but what is best — period!

We see here God as Shepherd, prodding, directing our course with His crook. He hooks it around our necks now and then, pulling us away here, pushing us forward there. Sometimes He takes that crook and brings it down sharply on our backsides to remind us who is really in charge of our direction, of our ultimate course. He is at the head at times, expecting us to follow. Ocassionally, He winds up behind us, seeking us out with a wary eye. But, rest assured, He is always there. He is always our Shepherd, and He always loves His sheep.

“For He Chose Us In Him” (1 Corinthians 1: 18, HCSB) by Carley Evans

The cross appears a foolish means of restoring humankind’s relationship with God. Perhaps even to some there is no relationship with God to be restored, or there is no God at all. Still, if God exists and loves us, why is the cross necessary?

Heard it before, haven’t you? That God hates sin so much He has to punish it. He doesn’t want to punish us, so He punishes Himself in the form of His Son. Sounds downright bizarre to the intellectual.

I’ve always found it odd that anyone can say to another, “It isn’t head knowledge that saves you; it’s a relationship.” Who would believe, strictly by intellectual means, that God is like how He has been described over the years since Jesus’ death and resurrection? Our power to explain God is so weak, so inadequate, so pathetic that I can’t imagine anyone believing it intellectually unless the Holy Spirit has done His work in the heart of the one who hears the explanation.

How does someone who has not been prepared by God Himself come to believe in a God who is love and wrath simultaneously, a God who destroys nations while building up a selected nation, Israel? How does someone trust a God who expects total obedience, and destroys anyone who does not obey completely? How does someone — someone like Job — come to be absolutely grateful to a God who destroys everything he has? How do we understand God unless God has touched us first?

I maintain we can’t.

For God’s ways are not ours ways; His thoughts are not our thoughts. (Isaiah 55: 8)

“Praise God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will.” (Ephesians 1: 2 – 5)

“Love Fulfills The Law” (Romans 13: 8, HCSB) by Carley Evans

Jesus says, “Don’t assume that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5: 18)

And Paul writes, “Do not owe anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

Paul reiterates that the “big ten” commandments not to murder, not to commit adultery, not to covet are fulfilled by loving others. And, he adds: “and whatever other commandment.” (Romans 13: 9)

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13: 10)

Jesus is love; He perfectly fulfills the law.

“Therefore, let us no longer criticize one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother’s way.” (Romans 14: 13)

“So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.” (Romans 14: 19)

“Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” (Romans 15: 2)

“Therefore, accept one another, just as the Messiah accepts you, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15: 7)

“Obligations” (Romans 13: 6 – 7, HCSB) by Carley Evans

Paul commands us to “pay [our] obligations to everyone: taxes to those [we] owe taxes.” Paul is not an anarchist; he does not call for us to overthrow our government.

Look at the government Paul is commanding Christians of his day to obey — a corrupt system which nevertheless provides roads, schools, access to water and to medical care while simultaneously providing temples for the worship of false gods and arenas for horrific forms of entertainment.

Today is no different — we are to pay our taxes, vote our consciences, express our disagreements with respect. Paul commands, “Pay your obligations to everyone: respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.”

“A Gift Available To All” (Romans 3: 23 – 24, HCSB) by Carley Evans

We are all fallen in sin; we are all freely justified in grace.

Sounds too simple to be true, says Paul. But “there is no distinction.” Through faith in Jesus Christ, God’s righteousness is available to all — whether Jew or Greek, male or female, freeman or slave. Everyone’s redemption comes “through faith in His blood” (Romans 3: 25) for God the Father declares Jesus and “the one who has faith in Jesus” as righteous. (Romans 3: 26)

Since salvation is so simple, Paul asks, “Where then is boasting?” and responds, “It is excluded.” (Romans 3: 27)

Salvation does not come to us via “works of the law,” but through faith in Jesus’ blood. (Romans 3: 28, 29)

Paul reminds us, “Now to the one who works, pay is not considered as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.” (Romans 4: 4 – 5)

God owes us nothing; He gives us redemption, salvation, justification, righteousness not as payment but as gift.

“Follow Jesus” (Luke 9: 23 – 24, NKJV) by Carley Evans

Jesus tells us that to gain our lives we must let them go. We are to be so focused on Him that we forget ourselves. We are to be so in tune with Him that we do not worry. We “take up [our] cross daily.” We follow Jesus.

His way is not hard. He says so. Yet, we must “deny [ourselves].”

If you imagine Jesus denying Himself, you may see what He means. Jesus denies Himself of His heavenly location when He comes to earth as an infant dependent upon parental care. Jesus denies Himself the fullness of the human life when He denies Himself a wife, children, grandchildren. Jesus denies Himself the pleasure of growing older with friends and family at His side as He dies a peaceful death. Still, His life is one of total fulfillment. He walks completely in tune with His Father, God. His ministry is broad-reaching yet personal. His final act on earth accomplishes God’s plan of salvation. And He returns to glory, regaining all that He, as God the Son, denied Himself.

Jesus sets us this example. He does not cling to His glory, but lets it go. He gives up His human life to regain it and more — He gains for us our salvation.

“Even In His Wrath” (Romans 5: 6 – 8, ESV) by Carley Evans

Even in His wrath against sin and our rebellion, “God shows His LoVe for us.” Paul points out the obvious fact that very rarely will anyone die for another. A mother may die for her child; a lover for his loved one. But seldom — if ever! — does anyone die for an enemy. Yes, we may die for someone who is weak, even a stranger drowning in a riptide. But, rarely — if ever! — will we die for an enemy, for someone who has deliberately wronged us and who is likely to do so again.

Let’s not forget — “Jesus dies for the ungodly.” He “dies for us.” And He does this “while we are still weak” and “while we are still sinners.”

“Since therefore we are now justified by His

“Jesus Holds Us Together” (Hebrews 1: 3, ESV) by Carley Evans

Jesus is the “exact imprint” of God the Father. And, as such, He makes “purification for sins” and “upholds the universe” — two impossible tasks which He accomplishes within time and space for Himself, His Father and for us.

Many believe the universe is set in motion by an unseen force, then left to itself.
Many believe our salvation is set in motion and left to our force of will.

Neither is true. Jesus holds the universe in its motion just as He creates it. Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things are created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things are created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1: 15 – 17)

Through His Holy Spirit, Jesus holds us in our salvation. Paul testifies, “And my God supplies every need of [ours] according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4: 19) He also says, “And [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. For in Him all the fullness of God is pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross.” (Colossians 1: 18 – 20

Jesus holds all things together, including us. Let us praise Him!

“Nothing Left Undone!” (Romans 5: 10, ESV) by Carley Evans

The truth — which should make all of us who call ourselves Christians — leap for joy in our hearts is that Jesus dies for us while we are His enemies! If God is willing to send His only Son out from glory into the world of hatred, mistrust, and agony so that He can save His people, then we should know in our hearts that He will not leave that task unaccomplished. Jesus, on the cross of Calvary, cries out in both His misery and His satisfaction — “It is finished, completed, accomplished, done with nothing left undone!”