“Trust The God Of Hope” ( Romans 15: 13, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Through His Holy Spirit, God “gives endurance and encouragement.” (Romans 15:5) “The God of hope fills [us] with all joy and peace as [we] trust in Him.” (Romans 15:13) “[We] overflow with hope.” (Romans 15:13) “To the [people] who do not work but trust God who justifies the wicked, [our] faith is credited as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5) “Therefore, [we] glory in Christ Jesus in [our] service to God. [We] do not venture to speak of anything except what Christ accomplishes through [us] in leading [others] to obey God by what [we] say and do — through the power of the Spirit.” (Romans 15:17-19)

Notice we begin with God and end with Him as well — His Holy Spirit encourages us and enables us to endure; giving us hope, joy and peace. We find our glory in Jesus Christ and our power through His Holy Spirit. “Since we are now justified by His blood, how much more are we saved from God’s wrath through Him!” (Romans 5:9)

So, continue to trust God. Through trust in Him, we overflow with hope.

“Where Is Job?” ( Job 1: 8, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Where does it say that God knows the location of His servant, Job? In the Book of Job, the angels come “to present themselves before the Lord.” (Job 1:6) Satan is present with these angels. God says to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8)

God’s question implies that He knows where Job is located and what he is doing.

Jesus confirms, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” (Matthew 10:26) We are not capable of hiding from God. Remember, “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 10:30)

“Shall I Offer My Firstborn” ( Micah 6: 7, NIV ) by Carley Evans


“What does the Lord require?” (Micah 6:8) Does He require “the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:7) Does He desire the sacrifice of “my firstborn for my transgressions?” (Micah 6:7) Does He demand sacrifice of me? Or, does He ask me “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [my] God.” (Micah 6:8)

He cries out to me that He requires me “to fear [His] Name [which] is wisdom –[and He says,] ‘Heed the rod and the One who appoints it.'” (Micah 6:9)

“Though I sit in darkness, the Lord is my light. Because I sin against Him, I bear the Lord’s wrath, until He pleads my case and establishes my right. He brings me out into the light; I see His righteousness. Then my enemy sees it and is covered with shame, she who says to me, ‘Where is the Lord your God?’ My eyes see her downfall; even now she is trampled underfoot like mire in the streets.” (Micah 7:8-10)

She tells me continuously I must do this but not that, go here but not there, be this but not that — but, God says to me: “The day for building your walls is here.” (Micah 7:11)

“Who is a God like You, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You again have compassion on [me]; You tread [my] sins underfoot and hurl [my] iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18-19)

Therefore, I “remember [my] journey” and I “know the righteous acts of the Lord.” (Micah 6:5)

“Get Some Rest” ( Mark 6: 31, NIV ) by Carley Evans


My 9 year old Bichon Frise, Bolind’s Frosted Katie Hanna [Hanna for short] died suddenly this weekend. She began walking stiffly, then foaming at the mouth, vomiting water, with profound lethargy following. She died within 24 hours of the first symptoms. Apparently, the symptoms sounded like antifreeze poisoning to the vet, who was too busy to see her. And, I am currently having her dog food tested as a precaution. We buried Hanna in our backyard.

Jesus tells His apostles, “Come with Me by yourself.”

On top of my dog’s sudden death, my daughter is presently in Japan. Although she is currently safe, the constant news coverage of the six nuclear reactors in Fukushima being near meltdown has caused me some loss of sleep, despite my mental discipline of refusing to worry. I’ve actually discovered that I worry that she is worried!

Jesus says, “Come to a quiet place.”

Kindly, my supervisor at work allowed me an extra day to be at home this week. I initially thought the two days without Hanna and with my daughter in Japan might be depressing, but I needed that time to be with the Lord and to be in a quiet place.

Jesus says, “Get some rest.”

Here is the command from the Lord with which I believe many Christians have the most trouble. So much to do, so little time to do it all — how can I rest?

I can tell you from this week’s experiences — I needed a rest. I needed a quiet place. I needed to be by myself, alone with the Lord.

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret.” (Psalm 37:7) “Get some rest.”

“Cling To Your Faith” ( Ecclesiastes 12: 6, NIV ) by Carley Evans


“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1) “Remember Him — before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7)

“For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who commits murder will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca’ [an Aramaic term for contempt] is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22) “‘And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.'” (Matthew 5:30)

“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 4:13)

Therefore, “fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

And, “since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Let us remember our Creator in our youth, before troubles make life weary. Let us cling to our faith in Jesus Christ, our high priest who knows our weaknesses first-hand and who bore our sins in His body on a tree, so that we might serve the living God.

“Make Every Effort” ( 2 Peter 1: 5 – 8, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


For the reason that we have escaped “the corruption that is in the world” and have been allowed to “share in the divine nature”, we are to “make every effort to supplement [our] faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

At the top of this pinnacle of qualities inherent in the Lord Jesus Christ is love. If you look at these qualities as rungs on a ladder we are climbing, then love is the top rung and faith is the bottom rung. The bottom rung is the foundation; the top rung is the goal. Without faith in Christ, none of the other qualities are possible for “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” And, “if these qualities are [ours] and are increasing, they will keep [us] from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:8)

Usefulness and fruitfulness are natural results of our escape from the world and of our sharing in the divine nature. Each of these qualities reflect our Lord who dwells within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. Our effort is akin to looking in a mirror, seeing His reflection, and remembering what He looks like. The more successful we are in this task, the more we love.

Without a doubt, the perfect mirror of the Lord and of His qualities is His Word. As we remain in His Word, know His Word, and put His Word into the practice of our lives, we remember what He looks like. We love because He first loved us.

“Imprisoned; Set Free” ( Romans 11: 32, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


Once we all – both the Jew and the Gentile – were imprisoned in disobedience. This imprisonment first occurred when Eve was deceived by the serpent in the garden of Eden; and Adam foolishly put his wife before God. Adam took Eve’s offer, likely not fully believing that the fruit would make them equal to God. Both were at fault, but the serpent bore the brunt of God’s punishment. After all, no salvation awaits the ultimate enemy of God. His destiny is the lake of fire, which burns eternally.

For Adam and Eve, imprisonment in disobedience began. They were banished from the garden of Eden. Work for food was suddenly necessary and hard. Childbirth was painful as was the raising of children. Life was no longer easy.

God, in His mercy, chose for Himself one man, Abram and one woman, Sarai and through them created a nation for Himself. Yet, this nation – this people – He also bound in disobedience.

“For God has imprisoned all in disobedience, so that He may have mercy on all.” “So the last will be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:16)

Jesus speaks of coming to earth in order to provide us – first for the Jew, but also for the Gentile – life; and that life is to be abundant. The life we live, we live to God. “Therefore,” writes Paul, “by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)

 

 

“Partakers Of The Divine Nature” ( 2 Peter 1: 4, NIV ) by Carley Evans


How is it that we, who are called by God into His Kingdom, are able to “participate in the divine nature?” Is it due to something inherent in us? Or, is it due to God’s generosity? The answer is obvious — nothing we are, nothing we do explains our “escape [from] the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Only the sacrifice of Jesus, the Son of God adequately explains our sharing in the divine being. All other explanations pale by comparison. Avoidance of sin, fervent worship, self-sacrifice, martyrdom — none of these fully meet God’s requirements for being divine.

We are provided with “His divine power [which] gives us everything we need for life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3) “[We] are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” (1 Peter 2:9) We are partakers in the divine nature simply because although “once [we] had not received mercy, […] now [we] have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:10)

God’s mercy is the reason we share in His nature. “In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for [us], who through faith are shielded by God’s power.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Our faith guarantees our inheritance — not because we generate that faith — but because of the shield of God’s power. God shields us “from the corruption in the world” and seals us for “the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:5)

“God In Search Mode” ( Matthew 18: 12, NEB ) by Carley Evans


Can you see the great Shepherd “leaving the other ninety-nine [sheep] on the hillside [to] go in search of the one that strayed?”

Can you imagine the God of the universe leaving behind ninety-nine other planets and their populations to go in search of humanity on the planet Earth, the one people who strayed from His will for them? I’ve never particularly found the idea that we are the only intelligent creatures God created. The universe is so big, and God is so fond of diversity; I find it nearly impossible to believe we are unique ones He created in His own image.

Perhaps God has left “the other ninety-nine on the hillside” while He comes in search of us. Perhaps we are the only one — of many planets — that strayed; the one He decided to die for, so that we might join our brother and sister planets in the wider universe.

Of course, Jesus is speaking here of little children, of how we must not “despise one of these little ones.” (Matthew 18:10) But, the analogy He uses may actually have a different meaning than what we know.

 

“Ready With The Hope That Is In Us” ( 1 Peter 3: 15, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“Do not be perturbed, but hold the Lord Christ in reverence in your hearts. Be always ready with your defense whenever you are called to account for the hope that is in you, but make that defense with modesty and respect.”

Peter’s words should sting those of us who malign others, who hold others in contempt, call them names, speak ill of them before the Lord, throw stones at them. This is not the defense Peter commands us to have “always ready.” Our defense is to be an “account” of “the hope that is in [us]” and is to be made “with modesty and respect.”

Think of Stephen’s attitude as he explains to the High Priest and members of the Council the reason for his faith. He begins by calling them “My brothers, fathers of this nation, listen to me.” (Acts 7:1) He definitely speaks the truth to them, but with patience. At the end of his detailed explanation, he speaks of their stubborn hearts and of their betrayal and murder of “the Righteous One.” (Acts 7:52) This truth does indeed “touch them on the raw” so that “they grind their teeth with fury.” (Acts 7:54) However, overall, Stephen remains polite and reasonable until the very end of his life, at which point he is stoned to death. As he is dying, Stephen prays, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7:60)

Think of Philip’s gentle attitude as he speaks of the “good news of Jesus” to the eunuch. (Acts 8:36). Notice that Philip “starts from [the] passage” that “he is reading.” (Acts 8:36) When asked, Philip gives an account of the hope he has and he does this “with modesty and respect.” The eunuch is appreciative. He sees “some water. ‘Look, here is water: what is there to prevent my being baptized?'” (Acts 8:37)

These great men of God remain reasonable toward outsiders. They each speak the truth in love; as should we.