“Joy In Hope, Patience In Affliction” ( Psalm 27: 14, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“Wait for the Lord; be strong, take courage, and wait for the Lord.”

I can’t think of more comforting and yet challenging words than these. We are reminded that God acts; He is not idle. But the call to wait for the Lord, to be strong and take courage also implies that something difficult, even painful has entered our lives. We are staggering; we are fainting from woe. We can barely eat; we do not know the comfort of sleep. We each cry out, “I am wearied with groaning; all night long my pillow is wet with tears, I soak my bed with weeping. Grief dims my eyes; they are worn out with all my woes.” (Psalm 6: 6-7)

The comfort is that “though [our] fathers and [our] mothers forsake [us], the Lord takes [us] into His care.” (Psalm 27:10) In the Lord, “[we] find refuge.” (Psalm 7: 1) Yet, often we are left feeling abandoned, crying out: “When my prayer comes back unanswered, I walk with head bowed in grief as if for a brother; as one in sorrow for his mother I lay prostrate in mourning… O Lord, how long wilt Thou look on at those who hate me for no reason?” (Psalm 35: 13-14, 17)

We must remain “joyful in hope, patient in affliction” writes Paul. (Romans 12:12, NIV) This joyful hope as we wrestle with pain and a feeling of unanswered prayer is the essence of our faith, our belief in the essential goodness of our God. Without this faith, we are unable to “be strong” or to “take courage.” Without this faith in God’s perfection, we do not “wait for the Lord.”

Know that God is good, that He loves us beyond measure, beyond comprehension. Like the psalmist, we each must say: “But for my part I trust in Thy true love. My heart rejoices, for Thou hast set me free. I sing to the Lord, who grants all my desire.” (Psalm 13:5-6)

“Ever On The Lord” ( Psalm 25: 14 – 15, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“The Lord confides His purposes to those who fear Him, and His covenant is theirs to know. My eyes are ever on the Lord, who alone can free my feet from the net.”

Snares and nets and traps exist everywhere. We are so easily entangled in distress; sometimes we blindly stumble into sin. The psalmist says, “I am lonely and oppressed.” “Look at my misery and trouble.” (Psalm 25: 16, 18) He asks God, “Relieve the sorrows of my heart and bring me out of my distress.” (Psalm 25: 17) He knows that God is the only one to “defend [him] and deliver [him.]” (Psalm 25: 20)

Therefore, the psalmist keeps his “eyes ever on the Lord.” He knows God’s purposes and trusts in God’s covenant. He sings, “No man who hopes in thee is put to shame.” (Psalm 25: 3) He begs, “Forgive my wickedness, great as it is.” (Psalm 25: 11) He trusts that the Lord “teaches sinners the way they should go. He guides the humble man in doing right, He teaches the humble His ways.” (Psalm 25: 9)

“[God’s] covenant is [ours] to know.” He “alone can free [our] feet from the net.” He shows us the way everlasting and how to walk in it.

“Acceptable To God” ( Psalm 19: 14, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

 

Jesus speaks, “Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. A good man produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil man produces evil things from his storeroom of evil. I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12: 34-37) “What comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a man. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man.” (Matthew 15: 18-19)

 

James writes, “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body… Though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boast great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell… No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. We praise our Lord and Father with it, and we curse men who are made in God’s likeness with it. Praising and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers, these things should not be this way.” (James 3: 2, 5-10)

 

Our hearts are evil; from this evil we speak and do evil things. Our hearts are not acceptable to God. Our tongues are uncontrollable because our hearts are evil. From within come evil things. Paul tells us, “For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this principle: When I want to do good, evil is with me.” (Romans 7: 18-21)

He says, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7: 24-25)

 

“This is the message of faith we proclaim: If you confess with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God raised [Jesus] from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Now the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame,’ for there is no distinction… For ‘everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved’.” (Romans 10: 8-13)

 

Here is the truth: We are saved by faith through the grace of God.

“For Who You Are, Lord God” ( 2 Samuel 7: 22, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“This is why You are great, Lord God. There is no one like You, and there is no God besides You, as all we hear confirms.”

 

What do you hear about the Lord God? Do you hear of all He does for others? Do you hear that He loves you beyond measure, beyond comprehension? Do you hear about His phenomenal wisdom and power?

 

Job says, “I hear rumors about You [God], but now my eyes see You. Therefore I take back my words, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42: 5-6)

 

You worship God not because of what He does, but because of who He is. “There is no God besides [Him].” “There is no one like [Him.]”

 

Job tells God, “I know that You can do anything and no plan of Yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42: 2) God tells Job, “Have you ever in your life commanded the morning or assigned the dawn its place, so it may seize the edges of the earth and shake the wicked out of it?” (Job 38: 12-13)

 

We are unable to answer God’s questions. We are only able to recognize His perfection — that He is worthy of our adoration.

 

“Father God, we thank You for who You are.”

“Your Mind Remade” ( Romans 12: 2, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“Adapt yourselves no longer to the pattern of this present world, but let your minds be remade and your whole nature thus transformed. Then you will be able to discern the will of God, and to know what is good, acceptable, and perfect.”

 

To know God’s will, writes Paul, you must allow “your mind [to] be remade.” As your mind is “remade,” “your whole nature [is] thus transformed.” A transformation occurs; the old nature is progressively destroyed as your thinking is altered. Simultaneously, the new nature is progressively “put on.” You take off the old, and put on the new.

 

The power to achieve this transformation is given to you by God’s own Holy Spirit. Rather than adjusting to “this present world,” Paul implores you to “offer your very self to [God]: a living sacrifice, dedicated and fit for His acceptance, the worship offered by mind and heart.” (Romans 12: 1)

 

“So come to Him, our living Stone — the stone rejected by men but choice and precious in the sight of God. Come, and let yourself be built, as [a] living stone, into a spiritual temple; become a holy priest, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2: 4-6)

 

“You are now [one of] the people of God, who once was not His [own]; outside His mercy once, you have now received His mercy.” (1 Peter 2: 10)

 

God is building you — transforming you from a person of “this present world” into “a living sacrifice,” “a spiritual temple,” “a holy priest.” Allow your mind to be remade.

“Perfect Love” ( Jeremiah 29: 11, NKJV) by Carley Evans


“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

 

God wants and so He plans “to give you a future and a hope.” In the New English translation, that future is “a long line of children.” In the Holman Christian Standard, God’s plans are for “your welfare, not for disaster.”

 

God plans to give you peace, welfare, hope, a future — your heart’s desires.

 

God promises that when “you call to [Him], [He] listens to you. You seek [Him] and find [Him] when you search for [Him] with all your heart.” God says, “I Am found by you – and I restore your fortunes.” (Jeremiah 29: 13, 14; HCSB)

 

“I bring you health and heal you of your wounds.” (Jeremiah 30:17) “You are My people, and I Am your God.” (Jeremiah 30: 27)

 

God’s love for His people is perfect. “We come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in Him. In this, love is perfected in us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world. There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because He first loves us.” (1 John 4: 16-19, HCSB)

“From The Highest Point” ( Proverbs 19: 20-21, NIV ) by Carley Evans


“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

 

A professor once told me “to know is to care.” One experiences this truth in medicine. Without knowledge, the doctor fails the patient. The medical student must “listen to advice and accept instruction” in order to become “wise.” Knowledge is caring.Doctors plan to succeed one hundred percent of the time; “but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

 

“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21:2) My mother always says, “Ah, to see ourselves as others see us.” To see myself as the Lord sees me — now, that is of great value! To know His purposes for my life — now, that is of immense worth! “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

 

“Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point in the city. ‘Let all who are simple come in here!’ she says to those who lack judgment. ‘Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.” (Proverbs 9:1-6)

 

Therefore, allow God to “weigh” your heart; rebuke your foolishness; then “commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3)

“Love Manifests Itself” ( Deuteronomy 13: 4, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“You must follow the Lord your God and fear Him; you must keep His commandments and obey Him, serve Him and hold fast to Him.”

 

Walking along the Sea of Galilee, Jesus sees two fishermen brothers – Simon and Andrew. “Jesus says to them, ‘Come with Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ And at once they leave their nets and follow Him.” (Matthew 4: 19-20)

 

Jesus may have told them, “Come to Me, [you] whose work is hard, whose load is heavy; and I will give you relief. Bend your necks to My yoke, and learn from Me, for I Am gentle and humble-hearted; and your souls will find relief. For My yoke is good to bear, my load is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30)

 

The Pharisees want to know what is the greatest commandment. Jesus answers, ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. That is the greatest commandment. It comes first. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. Everything in the Law and the prophets hangs on these two commandments.’ ” (Matthew 22: 37-40)

 

Love manifests itself, says Jesus. He speaks of the final day when “those on His right hand” receive God’s blessings. “For when I was hungry, you gave Me food; when thirsty, you gave Me drink; when I was a stranger, you took Me into your home, when naked you clothed Me; when I was ill you came to My help, when in prison you visited Me.”  But, those to His right hand do not realize what He is saying to them, so He clarifies: “I tell you this: anything you did for one of My brothers here, however humble, you did for Me.” (Matthew 25:35-37, 40)

 

“In a word, there are three things that last for ever: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of them all is love. Put love first.” (1 Corinthians 13: 13-14:1)

“His Own Chosen Purpose” ( Philippians 2: 13, Daniel 5: 23; NEB ) by Carley Evans


“You have not given glory to God, in whose charge is your very breath and in whose hands are all your ways.”

 

“You must work out your own salvation in fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, inspiring both the will and the deed, for His own chosen purpose.”

 

Paul assures “it is impossible that the Word of God should prove false.” (Romans 9: 6) God does not lie; He is not the author of evil. Yet, all our ways are in His hands, says Daniel. And, Paul writes that “it is God who works in you…for His own chosen purpose.” Paul explains God’s sovereignty in his letter to the Romans. He writes of Rebekah’s children, Jacob and Esau. Despite having the same father, “in order that God’s selective purpose might stand, based not upon men’s deeds but upon the call of God, [Rebekah] was told, even before they were born, when they had as yet done nothing, good or ill, ‘The elder shall be servant to the younger’; and that accords with the text of Scripture, ‘Jacob I loved and Esau I hated.’ ” (Romans 9: 11-13)

 

“Thus He not only shows mercy as He chooses, but also makes men stubborn as He chooses.” (Romans 9: 18) Paul refers us to Pharaoh — how God hardens this man’s heart repeatedly so that he does not let the Israelites leave Egypt.

 

Paul acknowledges that this does not, on the surface, appear fair. But he answers the objection: “But what if God, desiring to exhibit His retribution at work and to make His power known, tolerates very patiently those vessels which are objects of retribution due for destruction, and does so in order to make known the full wealth of His splendour upon vessels which are objects of mercy, and which from the first are prepared for this splendour?” (Romans 9:22-23)

 

“God’s choice stands.. for the gracious gifts of God and His calling are irrevocable.” (Romans 11: 28, 29)

“Aspire To The Realm Above” ( Colossians 3: 1, NEB ) by Carley Evans


Paul calls us to “aspire to the realm above.” John the Baptist says, “The kingdom of Heaven is upon you.” (Matthew 3: 2) Jesus says, “Is there a man of you who by anxious thought can add a foot to his height?” (Matthew 6: 27) Jesus points to the impossibility of anxiety changing our circumstances. He tells us our worries accomplish nothing of value, asking: “And why be anxious?” (Matthew 6: 27)

 

As we set our minds on things above, we are called to leave bitterness behind. Paul writes, “Have done with spite and passion, all angry shouting and cursing, and bad feeling of every kind.” (Ephesians 4: 31) We are instead to “be made new in mind and spirit, and put on the new nature of God’s creating.” (Ephesians 4: 23-24) We are not to lie but “speak the truth to each other.” (Ephesians 4:25) Whatever comes from our mouths should be “only what is good and helpful to the occasion, so that it brings a blessing to those who hear it.” (Ephesians 4: 29-30)

 

Jesus tells us, “‘You have learned that they were told, ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you this: Do not set yourself against the man who wrongs you. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn and offer him your left. If a man wants to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. If a man in authority makes you go one mile, go with him two.’ ” (Matthew 5:38-42) Jesus commands us not to judge; rather we are to forgive. “For if you forgive others the wrongs they have done, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, then the wrongs you have done will not be forgiven by your Father.” (Matthew 6: 14-15)

 

As we “aspire to the realm above,” the things of the world become less compelling. The “bad feeling of every kind” is — hopefully — lessened.

 

Jesus asks us, “Why are you such cowards?” He exclaims, “How little faith you have!” (Matthew 8: 26-27) Yet, He calls us friends, saying, “Follow Me.” (Matthew 8: 22)

 

As Jesus’ friends, we need only pray: “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17: 5) Help us, Lord, to “aspire to the realm above.”