“Put On The New Self” ( Ephesians 4: 23-24, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 4:30pm

Paul gives us a negative and a positive command here in Ephesians 4. He tells each of us to “put off [our] old self” (Ephesians 4:22) and to “put on the new self.” He speaks of denying “deceitful desires” while simultaneously making our selves “new in the attitude of [our] minds.”

The latter is the key — Paul elaborates: “You must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.” (Ephesians 4:17) What is futile thinking? Paul says Gentiles, i.e. non-believers “are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God.” He points to “the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” (Ephesians 4:18) Of course, this is our “old self” which we must “put off” in that this self has nothing in common with “the life of God.” Paul laments that this “old self” is right there with him when he wants to do good. He writes, “I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:14-15) He speaks of “sin living in me.” (Romans 7:16) This is the “old self” which we must “put off” in that this self has nothing in common with “the life of God.”

Paul commands us to “put on the new self.” The only way to accomplish this is to be “led by the Spirit of God.” (Romans 8:14) And the best method of “being led by the Spirit of God” is to remain in God’s Word. As we remain in God’s Word, we stay close to “the life of God.” Why? Because “the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13) The Word “judges the thoughts and attitudes of [our] hearts.” The Word enables us to “put on the new self” by altering, shaping, creating our “thoughts and attitudes.” We are made new by the Word of God.

Paul reminds us that “[we] are weak in [our] natural selves. Just as [we] used to offer the parts of [our] bodies in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now [we must] offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.” (Romans 6:19) “[We] have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God.” And, “the benefit [we] reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:22)

Therefore, let us renew our minds through the Word of God. Let us invite the Spirit of God to direct us. “We are [God’s] house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” (Hebrews 3:6) Amen.

“Bartimaeus Shouts” (Mark 10: 51, NIV) by Carley Evans


Monday, January 10, 2011 at 7:11pm

Jesus asks the blind man, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Bartimaeus naturally wants to see. When Jesus says to him, “Your faith has healed you,” the blind man is immediately healed and then “follows Jesus along the road.” (Mark 10:52) Bartimaeus’ faith is demonstrated in his persistence and his insistence. He shouts out to Jesus even after being rebuked by many. Several times, he shouts, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:48) Jesus stops. When Bartimaeus is called, he jumps up and comes to Jesus.

 

What do you want from Jesus? Do you know? Are you responding to His call? Do you shout for His attention? Do you ask for that which you want? Are you grateful when Jesus stops? Do you jump up and come near to Him? Do you follow after Him when He recognizes your faith? Do you know who He is? Do you recognize Him? Does He know your name? Do you know His?

 

Bartimaeus obviously knows who Jesus is. He knows Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah. He knows what he wants from the Lord. He also knows Jesus is able to heal him; he even believes Jesus wants to heal him. So he shouts. He asks for mercy. When Jesus calls, he jumps up — and though blind — comes to Jesus. When Jesus heals him, he is grateful, following Jesus “down the road.”

“Let Justice Roll On” ( Amos 5: 14, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 6:32pm

“Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord Almighty will be with you, just as you say He is.” Some talk the talk, but do not “seek good.” Rather than planning good, they secretly plan evil. This, despite the promise that “those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.” (Proverbs 14:22)

 

Some honor God with the tongue, but do nothing for the needy among us despite knowing that “whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” (Proverbs 14:31) Some go so far as to claim to be without sin even though God asks us,”Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin?’ ” (Proverbs 20:9)

 

Is the Lord Almighty with us? Do we “hate the one who reproves in court and despise him who tells the truth”? (Amos 5:10) Do we “trample on the poor”? (Amos 5:11) Do we “oppress the righteous and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts”? (Amos 5:12)

 

If so, God says to us, “I hate your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring Me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I do not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I do not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:21-24)

“Buried In His Death” (Hebrews 11: 1, NIV) by Carley Evans


Saturday, January 8, 2011 at 8:17pm

I realize (once again) that God has already healed my son and all the persons I help to care for at the hospital. He healed them all approximately 2000 years ago when He was nailed to a wooden cross on a hilltop called Golgotha. On that cross, in His very body, Christ carried all the illnesses, sins, crippling emotions and destroyed each and every one of them at the moment of His sacrificial death. When He raised Himself from the grave, all evil remained buried in His death.

 

Jesus says, “If you say to this mountain, throw yourself into the sea, it will obey.”

 

A simple, insignificant event — a mountain moved into the sea. Granted, the mountain’s presence in the sea alters the ocean floor, the sea life surrounding it, the animal and plant life upon it. Yet, the mountain being in the sea is not a healing event!

 

When we ask God for a healing, do we fully recognize that healing took place two thousand plus years ago? Do we honestly know God has already accomplished this? If we trust our eyes and ears, I doubt we know beyond a doubt that God answered our prayer many years ago.

 

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

 

Tonight, God lays on my heart the lives of those shot in Arizona. In a dark moment in time, some two thousand years ago, bullets pierced my Lord. Some two thousand years ago, His body wracked in pain, He healed. Believe.

“How Can We Say?” ( Jeremiah 8: 8, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Friday, January 7, 2011 at 9:16pm

“How can we say, ‘We are wise. for we have the law of the Lord,’ when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?”

 

“What kind of wisdom do they have?” (Jeremiah 8:9) “They dress the wound of [God’s] people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 8:11) “They have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” (Jeremiah 8:12)

 

Jesus cries out, “O My Comforter in sorrow, My heart is faint within Me. Listen to the cry of My people… Why do they provoke Me to anger with their images, with their worthless foreign idols?… Since My people are crushed, I Am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips Me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for My people?” (Jeremiah 8:18-22)

 

Jesus knows He is that balm in Gilead; He is the healing physician. He warns and encourages us: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I Am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

 

Say it with me: “I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Correct me, Lord, but only with justice — not in Your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing.” (Jeremiah 10:23-24) Amen.

“True Religion” ( Isaiah 1: 17, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 8:14pm

“Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”

I personally love the positive nature of “true religion.” True religion seeks justice, encourages the oppressed, defends orphans, pleads for widows. “True religion” seeks “to do right.” “Against such things there is no law,” says Paul. (Galatians 5:23)

James tells us, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27) Paul puts it succinctly,”The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6)

And Jesus reminds us, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:46-48)

“Meaningless Sacrifices” ( Isaiah 1: 13, NIV ) by Carley Evans


God cries out in frustration, “Stop bringing meaningless offerings!” “They have become a burden to Me; I Am weary of bearing them.” (Isaiah 1:14)

You, He says of us, are “a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption!” (Isaiah 1:4) “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide My eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I do not listen, your hands are full of blood.” (Isaiah 1:15) “I turn My hand against you; I thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities.” (Isaiah 1:25)

He declares to us, “Come now, let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He teaches us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.” (Isaiah 2:3) “[We] beat our swords into plowshares and [our] spears into pruning hooks. Nation does not take up sword against nation, nor do [we] train for war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)

“Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:22) God says, wearily, “The multitude of your sacrifices — what are they to Me?” (Isaiah 1:11) “When you come to appear before Me, who has asked this of you?” (Isaiah 1:12)

“New Creations” ( 2 Corinthians 5: 17, NIV ) by Carley Evans


“Regard no one from a worldly point of view.” (2 Corinthians 5:16) Our point of view now is a heavenly one. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” We are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. As such, we must not grieve Him by yielding what is new to the old. “We serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Romans 7:6) Yet,”[we] are weak in [our] natural selves.” Paul encourages us — rather than “offer the parts of [our] bodies in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.” (Romans 6:19) We should regard ourselves as being “in Christ,” as “new creations”; for this, indeed, is what we are. Paul says, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:18) So much for will power. “What a wretched man am I! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) The answer is “Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25) Make no mistake — we do not rescue ourselves; we do not power ourselves into eternal life. God makes us “new creations.” We regard ourselves as such; yielding our members to the Holy Spirit who dwells within.

“The Obsolete Covenant” ( Hebrews 8: 6-7, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Sometimes, we forget that the new covenant “is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.” (Hebrews 8:6-7)

“If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come — one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.” (Hebrews 7:11-12)

The law was changed and necessarily.

“The time is coming, declared the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers… This is the covenant I will make… I will put My laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8: 8,9,10,11-12)

Notice the “blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanses our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:14) Christ came to be the “mediator of a new covenant” because no “external regulation” was able “to clear the conscience of the worshiper.” (Hebrews 9:15; 9:9) The old covenant of “external regulations” is “obsolete, and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” (Hebrews 8:13)

In order to serve the living God, our consciences must be clear. Christ “died as a ransom to set [us] free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15) “He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 9:26) “He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” (Hebrews 9:28)

“Come With Me By Yourselves” ( Mark 6: 31, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Jesus’ apostles report to their Lord “all they are doing and teaching.” They are so busy and “so many people are coming and going that they do not even have a chance to eat.” Jesus says to them, ‘Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’

His apostles go away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place, not just to rest but to eat! Jesus tells them they not only need to recuperate; they need to take sustenance. But simultaneously many people see them and run on foot to arrive at that supposedly solitary place ahead of them. Jesus calls His servants to rest and eat with Him; but has so much compassion on the large crowd following them to that solitary place that He asks His servants to put aside their rest and refueling. Jesus delays rest and eating so as to teach the five thousand men with their women and children scattered across the hillsides. Jesus knows the people “are like sheep without a shepherd.” (Mark 6:34)

After teaching, it is “late in the day.” His disciples ask Him to “send the people away.” (Mark 6:35,36) The apostles are tired and hungry. So is Jesus.

And, although He Himself has told the disciples to rest and eat in a quiet place with Him, He nevertheless commands them to “give [the people] something to eat.” (Mark 6:37)

Jesus calls us to a balance. We must make time for those solitary moments of rest and sustenance with Him, but we also must look to the needs of others. Sometimes we will need to forgo the one for the other, but eventually without quiet time with God, we will fail to assist others in any meaningful way.

Jesus tells us figuring out this balance is not easy as many demands are made on our time and resources. Yet, He gives us the answer: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.” (Matthew 6:33) And, He promises: “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks; the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)