“God Accepts Us; Let Us Accept One Another” (Romans 15: 5 – 6, HCSB) by Carley Evans

God gives endurance. He builds hope through endurance. He gives encouragement and instruction through His Word. God allows us to live in unity and harmony with one another “with a united mind and voice” glorifying Him.

God fills us with joy and peace. He makes our hope overflow.

God gives us grace. He shows us His mercy.

God accepts us.

“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)

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

“But you, why do you criticize your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before the tribunal of God. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God.’ So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14: 10 – 12)

Rather than criticize, you ought to live in harmony. If you have a conviction, says Paul, you should “keep it to yourself before God.” (Romans 14: 22) Paul encourages the pursuit of “what promotes peace and what builds up one another.” (Romans 14: 19)

Therefore, accept your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Do not criticize. Instead, join together with them to praise our God, who gives us endurance, encouragement, hope, peace, and joy.

“Wisdom From Above” (James 3: 17 – 18, ESV) by Carley Evans

Bitter jealousy, boasting, selfish ambition, disorder, vile practices, quarrels, even murder — this is “not the wisdom that comes from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” (James 3: 15)

James contrasts this earthly knowledge with “the wisdom from above” which he writes is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

James tells us that “[our] passions are at war within [us].” What we want, we do not obtain and so we fight, even murder. “[We] ask and do not receive, because [we] ask wrongly, to spend it on [our] passions.” (James 4: 1, 3) James further writes, “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” (James 3: 8 – 9)

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4: 17)

On the other hand, as we cultivate peace — taming our ambitions, our tongue, our covetousness — then “a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace.” (James 3: 18) This is the wisdom from above — “open to reason” and “full of mercy.”

“God Forgets; God Remembers” (Hebrews 6: 10, HCSB, ESV, KJV) by Carley Evans

“For God is not unkind, unjust, unrighteous.”

He remembers your works. He does not ignore them; He does not forget them. Only, your works — for God or for the saints — do not save you. They do not make God love you. Rather, God remembers your faithfulness to Him. He cherishes your loyalty. He honors your obedience.

God forgets your sins, but He remembers your works.

Yes, it is that simple!

“Untraceable” (Romans 11: 33, HCSB) by Carley Evans

Remember dot-to-dot puzzles? Remember tracing a line from one numbered dot to the next numbered dot in an effort to complete a picture, usually a picture of a puppy or a clown or an umbrella?

God is not a dot-to-dot puzzle who is revealed as you trace a line from one dot to the next. God is untraceable. “For who knows 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)

Job thinks he knows God, but he is surprised by God. He realizes that he does not know God, that what he believes about God is only a shadow, a rumor of the reality of God.

Today many people appear to know God, claiming they hear His voice, they know His thoughts, they state His truths. But, “how unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways” writes Paul — a man who encounters the Christ on the road to Damascus.

Remember, “God imprisons all in disobedience, so that He may have mercy on all.” (Romans 11: 32) Who fully comprehends this? Who is able to say they have have “the wisdom and the knowledge of God?” Who understands that God punishes all wickedness, yet forgives the wicked? Who understands that God does not abide sin, yet welcomes home the sinner? Who understands how it is that “mercy triumphs over judgment?” (James 2: 13) For God says, “For whoever keeps the entire law, but falls in one point, is ‘guilty of breaking it all’.” (James 2: 10)

God is not a dot-to-dot puzzle to be revealed by tracing over a predetermined yet unseen line. God is a great mystery. He is the good news. He is our savior, healer, sanctifier, and king. Let us rejoice in our salvation — let us be glad Jesus loves us.

“God Among Us” (Zephaniah 3: 17, HCSB) by Carley Evans

God “rejoices over [me] with gladness… He delights in [me] with shouts of joy.” As I am born again, He holds me tenderly. “He brings [me] quietness with His love” as a mother lulls her child to sleep with swaddling. God holds me close to Himself, keeping me safe for He is “a warrior who saves.”

God is a tender warrior with the strength of armies and the gentleness of a mother with her newborn. See Him holding you and me in His strong hands. See Him warring against the powers aligned against us.

“Yahweh [our] God is among [us]!”

“Paid In Full” (Habakkuk 1: 13, HCSB) by Carley Evans

O Lord,”Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and You cannot tolerate wrongdoing.”

Hence, Your Son Jesus comes to live on earth, and die on a cross to save us from Your wrath. Without Jesus’ sacrifice, You are too pure to accept us for we are evil, committing wrongdoing.

Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, how many times can my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18: 21) Jesus says to Peter that he must forgive his brother an infinite number of times, even if this brother commits the same sin over and over and over again.

You, O God forgive us in the same manner — an infinite number of times because our sins — our debts against your glory — are paid in full by the blood of Your precious Son, Jesus Christ.

O God, let us be grateful as David is grateful. Let us sing praise to Your Name, and give You all the glory. Amen.

“Face To Face” (1 John 3: 2, ESV) by Carley Evans

“Beloved, we are God’s children now,” writes the author of 1 John. He calls us God’s own children; as children, we are precious to God. He cherishes us, disciplines us, comforts us, teaches us, and guides us into all truth. We belong to Him.

Yet, “what we will be has not yet appeared.” We are not like God yet. We are in process; like children in the womb being formed before our birth.

“When [Jesus] appears we shall be like Him.” We will be like Him “because we shall see Him as He is.” We will finally fully know Him.

As Paul says, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial shall pass away… For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now [we] know in part; then [we] shall know fully, even as [we] have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13: 9, 12)

“And everyone who thus hopes in [Jesus] purifies himself as He is pure.” (1 John 3: 3)

“Knowledge Too Wonderful” (Psalm 139: 13 – 14, ESV) by Carley Evans

God knows “even before a word is on my tongue” what I am going to say. He “knows it altogether.” (Psalm 139: 4) God knows “my path and my lying down.” He knows “all my ways.” (Psalm 139: 3) He “knows my thoughts from afar.” (Psalm 139: 2) To say it simply — God knows me!
He knows me because “[He] formed my inward parts; [He] knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” God not only knows me, He knows “the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139: 16)
I am unable to hide from God. “Where shall I go from [His] Spirit? Or where shall I flee from [His] presence?” (Psalm 139: 7) Wherever I go, “even there [His] hand shall lead me.” (Psalm 139: 10) “[God] hems me in, behind and before, and lays [His] hand upon me.” (Psalm 139: 5) Nothing covers me from God’s sight. He “knows when I sit down and when I rise up.” (Psalm 139: 2) He “is acquainted with all my ways.” (Psalm 139: 3)
“Wonderful are [God’s] works; my soul knows it very well.” “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” (Psalm 139: 6)

“Keep Her Because” (Proverbs 31: 10, ESV) by Carley Evans

A woman with noble character is worth more than rubies, says the wise man. When you find her, make every effort to keep her.

Keep her because “she does [her husband] good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:12)

Keep her because “she rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household… She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.” (Proverbs 31: 15, 18)

Keep her because she is generous, opening “her hand to the poor.” (Proverbs 31: 20)

Keep her because “she opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31: 26)

Keep her because “strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” (Proverbs 31: 25)

“And this second thing you do,” warns the Lord. “You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because He no longer regards the offerings or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does He not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did He not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?… So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.” (Malachi 2: 13 – 15)

Keep her because God has made you one with her. Keep her because a wife of noble character is worth more than jewels. “So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” (Malachi 2: 16)

“In Perfect Harmony” (Ephesians 4: 32, HCSB) by Carley Evans

“Be kind and compassionate to one another.” Be tenderhearted and forgiving of one another, “for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4: 25, ESV) Our kindness, compassion, and ability to forgive emerges from God’s kindness, compassion and forgiveness toward us in Christ. As God forgives us, so we should forgive one another.

Jesus teaches,”Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6: 38)

Forgive another, and he is more likely to forgive you. Be kind to another, and he is more likely to be kind to you. Be compassionate and tenderhearted toward another, and he is more likely to be compassionate and tenderhearted toward you.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3: 12 – 13)

“And above all these put on love.” (Colossians 3: 14) Love “binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3: 14)