“A Profoundly Forgotten Mystery” ( Matthew 5: 32, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Jesus says, “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”

 

In our society as it exists today, adultery is rampant. So many of us — even Christians — are divorced for causes other than marital unfaithfulness, and remarried to another who may also be divorced for a reason other than adultery. Adulterers are ‘married’ to adulterers. And God’s Word calling for the marriage bed to remain undefiled continues to fall on deaf hearts. (Hebrews 13:4)

 

So few seem to comprehend the fact that “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31) In the same manner that we become new creations in Christ, a man becomes one with his wife. In the same manner that the new creation can not become old again, so a man may not separate himself from the one with whom he first joined himself. How can one flesh become two again? When a man tears himself from his first commitment and takes another, he “hates his own body.” (Ephesians 5:29)

 

As Paul says, “This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32) A wonderful analogy – yes. But, also a true statement — as Christ and His church are inseparable, so are the man and the woman for whom he first left his parents.

“No Doubt In Your Heart” ( Mark 11: 22 – 23, NIV ) by Carley Evans


” ‘Have faith in God,’ answers Jesus” when Peter points out the fig tree withered due to being cursed by the Lord. Jesus continues, ” ‘ I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.’ ”

Having complete faith in God, total trust in Him, total commitment to His authority leads to “impossible” prayers, requests, happenings. However, reading Jesus’ statement about commanding a mountain to throw itself into the sea results, in my mind, in incredulity — for one thing, why would I want a mountain to move into the sea? What would be the point of such a request? Sometimes, I think Jesus may be saying, “Yes, you can ask for such a worthless thing as moving a mountain into the sea and it will be done if you have no doubts;  but remember, if God is willing to do such a valueless act for you, at your request, imagine what better acts He is willing to do for you and through you.”

James says, “When [you] ask, [you] must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6) You will not receive anything of God if doubt is harbored in your heart.

When you ask, ask with right motives. With faith in your heart, it will be done for you.

“Mary’s Praise” ( Luke 1: 46, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


Mary, the mother of Jesus, says: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” In her praise of God, Mary mentions or references the Lord a total of seventeen times. She mentions or references herself only six times. In the mention of herself, she speaks of her “soul” and her “spirit,” her “humble condition;” and that “from now on” she will be called “blessed” by “all generations.” (Luke 1:46,47,48) She also refers to herself as “[God’s] slave.”

In speaking of God, Mary refers to her Lord as “great,” “Mighty,” “holy.” She delineates God’s accomplishments: “He has looked with favor” on her. He “has done great things for” her. He has been merciful “from generation to generation.” “He has scattered the proud” and “toppled the mighty” while “exalting the lowly.” “He has satisfied the hungry with good things.” “He has helped.” (Luke 1: 48-54)

Of herself, Mary only acknowledges that she is God’s slave; and that because of His favor and mercy, she will be called blessed. Mary takes no credit for this, giving all the glory back to God — the only One to whom it belongs.

“Matter Of Fact Prayers” (Matthew 6:7-8, HCSB) by Carley Evans


Recently I’ve been convicted that prayers need not be long; they only need to be immediate. When a prayer request comes my way, such as: “My child broke his leg; please pray that he won’t be frightened by the doctors when they set it;” my conviction is to pray immediately and quite directly. I pray, “Father God, please help this child. Heal his leg; calm his fear. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

Or, when I am aware of a need, I find that the time to pray is right then — not later. Sometimes this is hard, taking discernment as some people do not want you to pray for them. A simple, “May I pray for you?” should be sufficient. But, the key is not to go on and on. A straightforward request to God is enough. After all, He already knows the problem, the need, the solution. Jesus says, “When you pray, don’t babble like idolaters, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.”

Now I’m not saying it’s wrong to say, “I’m praying for you.” Or, “I’ll keep you in my prayers.” I do think, however, encouragement is given to the one in need if you advance the simple prayer then and there.

And, God gets all the glory as the answer becomes clear to the one for whom you’ve prayed.

“An Obligation To Love” ( Romans 15: 1-2, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”

 

“Therefore,” says Paul, “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)

 

If we are strong, we may be able to genuinely say “that nothing is unclean in itself.” But if we are weak, we may find our conscience pricked by that very act another finds acceptable, perhaps even finds suitable. If we are weak, we may protest against the other. If we are strong, we are to bear up under this protest. In a sense we are to deny what we know to be true –“that nothing is unclean in itself” — and avoid participating in that activity in the face of the one who is weak. In this way, we (who are strong) will not harm the one who is weak.

 

James say, “Brothers, do not complain about one another, so that you will not be judged. Look, the judge stands at the door!” (James 5:9)

 

Peter says, “Now finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you are called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)

 

“Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

 

“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

“The Promised Seal” ( Ephesians 1: 13 – 14, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory.”

 

We hear “the message of truth, the gospel” and we “believe in Him.” Simultaneously, we are “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” Jesus promises the Comforter, the Helper to His friends. And Paul calls “the promised Holy Spirit” the “down payment,” the guarantee of “our inheritance.” God’s plan is to redeem us “to the praise of His glory.” And His seal is much superior to any other guarantee.

 

Odd how we trust that our funds are federally insured in a bank when we see the seal of the FDIC; that we believe our meats are safe if approved by the United States Department of Agriculture. We see the seal USDA and we believe.

 

Yet, many of us doubt our salvation. We doubt that God has redeemed us, set His seal permanently upon us. We seem to forget we are purchased with the blood of God’s own Son, that nothing interferes with God’s ultimate goal to bring all things together under one head, that is, Jesus Christ.

 

We belong to the Lord. Therefore, “I pray 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)

“Turn Us Back” ( Lamentations 5: 21, NEB ) by Carley Evans


 

“O Lord, turn us back to thyself, and we will come back.”

 

I like to fish. I love the first tug of the line; the sudden pulling away in panicked flight, the sneaky coming back at me, the leaping fight as the fish struggles to be free. I love feeling, smelling, and seeing the beauty of the fish I eventually catch.

 

Sometimes, I imagine myself as a fish on God’s line — He’s certainly got a hook in me. Yep, I took the bait. And His hook is quite secure. Oddly enough, most of the time, it does not hurt. I’m not even bleeding. Occasionally, I swim in circles. Other times, I swim away. Not as much now as I did when I was younger in the Lord.

 

God’s a skillful fisherman. For one thing, He knows exactly where I am and what I am thinking. He knows my feeble plans; He understands my little heart. He knows when to give me slack in His line; and when to pull hard to “turn [me] back.” I “[do] come back.”

 

God knows the fish he has caught — every flaw and the trophy I can be.

“The Cheerful Giver” ( 2 Corinthians 9: 7, NEB ) by Carley Evans”


“Each person should give as he has decided for himself; there should be no reluctance, no sense of compulsion; God loves a cheerful giver.”

I’m certain you’ve sat in a church on a Sunday morning and listened to a pastor tell you to “bring the tithes into the treasury, all of them.” (Malachi 3:10) And to quickly assure you that there’s a great reward if you do so. Some people refer to this as the ‘prosperity’ gospel.

I prefer Paul’s exhortation here in his letter to the church at Corinth, in which he encourages each person to “decide for himself” without “compulsion” and without “reluctance” not only the amount to give but the time to give. Paul also tells the church “it is in God’s power to provide you richly with every good gift; thus you will have ample means in yourselves to meet each and every situation, with enough and to spare for every good cause.” (2 Corinthians 9:8-9) “You will always be rich enough to be generous.” (2 Corinthians 9:11)

Jesus warns that it is an error to honor the ‘traditions of men’ at the expense of taking care of your parents; to set aside the good you should do for your family in order to please a church. Instead, we should look to the needs of those who are our dependents. If our child is unclothed and hungry and we give our money as a tithe to God, He is not pleased. If our mother is in the least expensive nursing facility we can locate and we give our money as a tithe to God, He is not pleased. If our neighbor is losing her house to foreclosure, and we give our money [under compulsion, that is] as a tithe to God, He is not pleased. (Mark 7:9-13)

God repeatedly states that He wearies of our offerings. What He desires is a contrite heart, humble and cheerful in giving to others in need. Look first to our families, meeting the needs of those we love. Then look to our friends and neighbors, then look to the poor and disenfranchised.

Decide for yourself, without compulsion, with no reluctance. For God loves a cheerful giver.

“That Is The Law And The Prophets” (Matthew 7: 12, NEB) by Carley Evans


Jesus says, “Always treat others as you would like them to treat you: that is the Law and the prophets.” Our Lord calls this the “second great commandment;” otherwise known as “love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

Yet, Jesus also says, “Do not give dogs what is holy; do not throw your pearls to the pigs: they will only trample on them, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6) And, He warns: “Beware of false prophets, men who come to you dressed up as sheep while underneath they are savage wolves. You recognize them by the fruits they bear.” (Matthew 7:15-16)

 

Jesus tells us to be wise as well as kind toward others. Yet, He says, “Pass no judgment, and you will not be judged.” He warns that “whatever measure you deal out to others will be dealt back to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

If you wish to be treated well, then treat others well. If you wish to be given the benefit of the doubt, then give that benefit to the other. If you desire love, then love. If you desire peace, be peaceful. If you crave kindness and considerate behavior, be kind and considerate. Don’t “look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye, with never a thought to the great plank in your own!” (Matthew 7:3-4)

 

Remember, “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, or a poor tree good fruit.” (Matthew 7:18) “That is why you recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:19) Nevertheless, treat others as you desire them to treat you. And, “your Father who sees what is secret will give you your reward.” (Matthew 6:18)

“Directed By The Spirit” ( Romans 8: 10, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“But if Christ is dwelling within you, then although the body is a dead thing because you sinned, yet the spirit is life itself because you have been justified.”

 

Paul is explaining to his readers and to us that although saved, i.e. justified by Christ’s sacrifice and our acceptance of it; we are nevertheless subject to our “lower nature.” Remember, “the outlook of the lower nature is enmity with God; it is not subject to the law of God; indeed it cannot be: those who live on such a level cannot possibly please God.” (Romans 8: 7-8) Though subject to the influence of our lower nature; nevertheless,”we are not obliged to live on that level.” We must “put to death all the base pursuits of the body.” In this way, as we continue to subdue our “lower nature” “by the Spirit” then we “will live.” (Romans 8: 12, 13) Paul says this is true because we who are Christians “are moved by the Spirit of God.” (Romans 8: 14) And, of course, the Spirit of God does not lead us “back into a life of fear.” (Romans 8: 15)

 

“The conclusion of the matter is this: there is no condemnation for those who are united with Christ Jesus, because in Christ Jesus the life-giving law of the Spirit has set [us] free from the law of sin and death. What the law could never do, because our lower nature robbed it of all potency, God has done: by sending His own Son in a form like that of our own sinful nature, and as a sacrifice for sin, He has passed judgment against sin within that very nature, so that the commandment of the law may find fulfillment in us, whose conduct, no longer under the control of our lower nature, is directed by the Spirit.” (Romans 8: 1-4)