“As Christ Forgives Us” (Colossians 3: 13, NEB) by Carley Evans

If you have cause to complain about another, Paul says that “you must forgive as the Lord forgives you.”

“Let Christ’s peace be arbiter in your hearts.” (Colossians 3: 15) Let His peace be the judge between you and the one with whom you have a disagreement. Let His peace have the final authority, thereby resolving your dispute.

“There must be love, to bind all together and complete the whole.” (Colossians 3: 14)

Jesus says, “Peace is My parting gift to you, My own peace, such as the world cannot give. Set your troubled hearts at rest, and banish your fears.” (John 14: 27)

He also says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another; as I love you, so you are to love one another.” (John 13: 34 – 35)

Allow the peace of Christ and His love settle your complaint against your brother or sister in Christ. Let Christ be the answer to your dispute. He is our Head as we are only members of His body, co-dependent upon Him. Who are we to fight? We are the same. God calls us to walk in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul reminds us that “[we] have strength for anything through Him who gives [us] power.” (Philippians 4: 13) Surely we have the strength to forbear with one another, and to forgive each other as Christ forgives us.

“Sheep And The Two Gates” (Matthew 7: 13 – 14, ESV) by Carley Evans

Maybe sheep are like lemmings — all going the same way, following along in a daze, unaware of dangers around them, oblivious to the paths they might take. Lemmings tend to move forward in a crowd, even to the point of tumbling over cliffs to their deaths.

For sheep, it is natural to follow a leader, yet they also tend to keep together. Sheep usually flee when threatened and only stand their ground when their egress is cut off.

A narrow gate is one which is obvious, but difficult to pass through especially if sheep are in a large mob — herd or flock. Many may not pass through; rather each sheep must find its own way through that narrow gate. Most sheep remain with the herd, meandering through the wide gate which is easy to pass through and appears safer, since the sheep remains in the mob.

But that wide gate — which is so easy to pass through — leads to destruction.

And the narrow gate — which is so lonely sometimes and so hard to find and so difficult to pass through — “leads to life and those who find it are few.”

“Yet I Will Rejoice” (Habakkuk 3: 19, NIV) by Carley Evans

(June 8, 2010 8:42pm)

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I rejoice in the Lord, I am joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3: 17 – 18)

Though the bank account is empty and there is no food in the refrigerator, though the job expected does not come to fruition and no job is in sight, though friends are seemingly scarce to non-existent and there is no one nearby to whom to turn, yet rejoice in the Lord, be joyful in God the Savior.

God is our strength. We run like deer traversing rugged, even treacherous ground, and God gives us sure feet. We do not stumble as we go up to the heights. Our God is sovereign, and His complete control reassures us that we are safe even here on the edge of the cliff.

We are enabled by God Himself. We do not fall so as not to recover.

“The Fullness Of God” (Ephesians 3: 17 – 19, NEB) by Carley Evans

(Sunday at 10:36pm)

We come to the “fullness of being, the fullness of God Himself” “through faith,” through “deep roots and firm foundations.” Paul prays for us, that we come to know — “though it is beyond knowledge” — the love of Christ. Paul prays that we know “what is the breadth and length and height and depth” of this love.

We come to know the immensity of Christ’s love through the “strength and power” of the Holy Spirit “in [our] inner being.” (Ephesians 3: 16)

How great is the love of God for us in Christ Jesus? “In union with Christ Jesus [God] raises us up and enthrones us with Him in the heavenly realms, so that He might display in the ages to come how immense are the resources of His grace, and how great His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2: 6 – 8)

Paul prays “our inward eyes may be illumined, so that [we] may know what is the hope to which He calls [us], what the wealth and glory of the share He offers [us] among His people in their heritage, and how vast the resources of His power open to us who trust in Him.” (Ephesians 1: 18 – 19)

We have God’s resources: the strength and power of His Holy Spirit and the grace and love of His Son, Jesus Christ.

“Aim At Doing The Best” (1 Thessalonians 5: 11, NEB) by Carley Evans

(Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 11:42pm)

Paul calls us to “hearten one another, fortify one another — as indeed [we] do.” He continually expects us to “live at peace among [ourselves].” (1 Thessalonians 5: 14) He desires us to “encourage the faint-hearted, support the weak, and to be very patient” with all. (1 Thessalonians 5: 14)

He says, “Always aim at doing the best you can for each other and for all men.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 15)

We are able to comfort one another because Jesus Christ “dies for us so that we, awake or asleep, might live in company with Him.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 10)

“For God has not destined us to the terrors of judgment, but to the full attainment of salvation.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 9)

And “He who calls [us] is to be trusted; He will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 24) “In Him, [we] are brought to completion.” (Colossians 2: 10)

As complete children of God, we are able to encourage and strengthen one another because we are encouraged and strengthened by Christ Himself. We stand in His company; and He is our friend. Let us befriend one another, aiming to do our best for all.

Only What Comes From God (1 Chronicles 29: 11, HCSB) by Carley Evans

(Friday, June 4, 2010 at 11:03pm)

David recognizes God as “head over all.” Because God is worthy of glory and honor and praise, David reminds us to always exalt God above ourselves. We worship God not for what He does for us, but for who He is for us. He is our Creator, our Savior, our Healer, our Sanctifier, and our King.

David says to God, “It is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all.” (1 Chronicles 29: 12)

Since “everything comes from [God]” we give back to God “only what comes from [His] own hand.” (1 Chronicles 29: 14)

Without God, says David, “our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.” (1 Chronicles 29: 15)

“Every family in heaven and on earth is named” from God. (Ephesians 3: 14) God creates and rules over all. Paul prays that “[we], being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3: 17 – 19)

Everything we are; everything we have comes only from God. What we give back to Him is His already. He makes us great; He strengthens us. God is worthy of all praise. Let us be grateful, fully aware of His wondrous love.

“The Wrath Of God” (Proverbs 15: 1, HCSB) by Carley Evans

(Friday, June 4, 2010 at 1:21pm)

A harsh response stirs up wrath.
A gentle answer turns away anger.

“Don’t allow the sun to go down on your anger.”

“For anger does not bring about the will of God.”

“Who can stand before His wrath? Who can resist His fury? His anger pours out like a stream of fire, and the rocks melt before Him… He Himself will make an end of you all.” (Nahum 1: 6, 8, NEB)

Essentially the only time Jesus is recorded as angry is in the temple which is a marketplace rather than a place of worship — a “den of thieves” rather than the “house of the Lord.” Jesus drives out the thieves with the very wrath of God.

Anger is a part of our God. He knows anger; He feels wrath — a need for revenge against enemies. God has enemies; they are us.

God’s gentle response to His anger against us, His enemies, is to send His Son Jesus Christ to die on the Cross in our stead; His wrath is not turned away but poured out on His own Son — His wrath is fully released and totally satisfied.

“Only Once” (Hebrews 9: 28, HCSB) by Carley Evans

Jesus is offered once to bear the sins of many, and He appears a second time to bring salvation to those who wait for Him. The second time He comes, He comes “not to bear sin” as He does the first time. The second time He comes, He comes with salvation completed.

Jesus suffers only once, not many times. Rather, He removes “sin by the sacrifice of Himself” and this only once. (Hebrews 9: 25, 26) This is in sharp contrast to the high priest who must enter the sanctuary “yearly with the blood of another.” (Hebrews 9: 25) Jesus offers His own blood, and He offers it only once.

The law is “only a shadow of the good things to come” and “can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year.” (Hebrews 10: 1) Jesus comes to fulfill the demands of the law, and He does this only once. With Jesus’ death and shed blood, He satisfies the law’s demands. God the Father is satisfied with Jesus’ sacrifice.

“Now where there is forgiveness of [sins and lawless acts], there is no longer an offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10: 17, 18)

“I Am Making Everything New” (Revelation 21: 2 – 4, NIV) by Carley Evans

God promises: “Behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth. The former things are not remembered, nor do they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create, for I create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in My people; the sound of weeping and of crying are to be heard no more in it.” (Isaiah 65: 17 – 19)

God says, “I Am making everything new.” (Revelation 21: 5)

In this new earth and new heaven, suffering and death are no more. God makes a new way through and beyond the wilderness of the old earth and old heaven. He dwells with His people, rejoicing over them with a complete joy, without hesitancy or doubt. This new city is God’s Holy Bride, “beautifully dressed for her husband.”

In this Holy City, God “wipes every tear from [every] eye.”

God promises: “Your Light breaks forth like the dawn, and your healing quickly appears; your righteousness goes before you, and the glory of the Lord is your rear guard. You call, and the Lord answers; you cry for help, and He says: ‘Here I Am.’ ” (Isaiah 58: 8 – 9)

God promises: “Before [you] call I answer; while [you] are still speaking, I hear. The wolf and the lamb feed together, and the lion eats straw like the ox… They neither harm nor destroy on all My Holy Mountain.” (Isaiah 65: 24 – 25)