“How Do You Know Me?” ( John 1: 48, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Nathanael wants to understand how Jesus knows him before even meeting him. A legitimate question, don’t you think? Nathanael has judged Jesus before meeting Him, but this judgment is based upon where Jesus comes from, not on who Jesus is or is not. When Philip tells Nathanael he and Andrew and Peter “have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45) Nathanael responds by rhetorically asking, “Can anything good come from [Nazareth]?” (John 1:46) He dismisses Jesus solely based on tradition.

Yet, when Jesus sees Nathanael from a distance, He says, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” (John 1: 47) He already knows Nathanael. Jesus tells Nathanael how He knows Him, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” (John 1:48) Essentially Jesus tells Nathanael, “Hey, I’ve always known you.”

Because Jesus shows His omniscience briefly to Nathanael, the man believes, saying, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” (John 1:49)

Jesus may as well have laughed, a joyful, not derisive laugh because here is one who believes because Jesus is able to see him under a fig tree. “I tell you,” Jesus says, “you shall see greater things than that.” (John 1:50)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who blesses us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will — to the praise of His glorious grace, which He freely gives us in the One He loves.” (Ephesians 1:3-6)

“He Is The Image” ( Colossians 1: 15, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Paul tells us that Jesus Christ “is the image of the invisible God.”

“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)

The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ “is the radiance of God’s glory, and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word.” (Hebrews 1:3)

Jesus Himself says, “Don’t you believe I Am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me? The Words I say to you are not My own. Rather it is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work. Believe Me when I say that I Am in the Father and the Father is in Me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” (John 14:10-11)

New age thinking bewilders me. I’ve heard, “Jesus was a great teacher” from so many people through the years, it makes me want to laugh. I’m sorry, but if Jesus is not the Son of God, if He is not the image and radiance and exact representation of the invisible God, then the man was a lunatic. After all, this is a man who says, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” Reminds me of the words of the Wizard of Oz, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” If Jesus is not God, then we should pay him no attention.

But, of course, Jesus is the Son of God and is the image and radiance and exact representation of the invisible God. Therefore, we owe Him our entire allegiance: our attention and devotion.

 

“Freedom Is Not A Cover For Evil” ( 2 Peter 2: 15-16, ESV ) by Carley Evans


“For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” 2 Peter 2:15-16 ESV

Clearly, the will of God is that we, as Christians, should do good. He wills these good actions or good deeds or good behavior so that we may “put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” Yes, we are to “live as people who are free,” but we are not to use our “freedom as a cover-up for evil.” Rather we are to live “as servants of God.”

A servant of God does the will of God. The will of God is that we behave in ways which reflect Him. If we do not live in a way that reflects our God, then we fuel “the ignorance of foolish people.” Obviously and unfortunately, we sometimes fuel the ignorance of foolish people, because we do use our “freedom as a cover-up for evil.”

We are to obey those who are in authority over us — in this manner, we prove to them that we are indeed who we say we are: children of God, the Most High. As we show our leaders respect and as we honor the law, we reveal to them the God we serve.

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.” 2 Peter 2:13

Peter calls upon Christians to obey governors and emperors, masters and parents not for the sake of the human institution, but for the sake of the Lord Himself. In this way, men are not able to speak of us as “evildoers.” Instead, as we honor them, they may very well decide to honor God.

“As We Love Ourselves” ( Ephesians 5: 28, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Paul, who isn’t a married man, writes to the church at Ephesus:

“He who loves his wife loves himself.”

He goes on logically to say that a man doesn’t hate his own body, but cares for it, feeds it, shelters it. Paul, in a few sentences, gives the church a picture of what it means to be a husband. A husband is to “love [his] wife as [his] own body.” (Ephesians 5:28)

“After all, no one ever hated his own body.” (Ephesians 5:29)

Of course, that’s actually not true. In the world, some men abuse their own bodies every day. They drink to excess, they smoke, they ‘do’ drugs, they drive too fast, they take steroids in an effort to be strong, they sit on the couch all day watching television, they climb to impossible heights without oxygen, they dive into deep caves without proper equipment, they commit crimes that will imprison them for life.

Oddly enough, in today’s world, some women do these same things.

Perhaps, in our culture, Paul is speaking to both men and women. Perhaps the picture here is of how to be a spouse. We are to love our spouses as we ought to love our own bodies. How can we know how to love the other if we do not love and care for ourselves? This is not to say we should put ourselves above the other person in the relationship; rather we must recognize that if we abuse ourselves, what makes us think we will be able to or inclined to treat the other any better?

God says to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

“Put On The Full Armor” ( Ephesians 6:11,13; NIV ) by Carley Evans


Paul says it twice: “Put on the full armor of God.” Why? “So that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” and “so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Paul then speaks of “our struggle.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Obviously, we do have a struggle after our salvation. And what is this struggle? We struggle to stand our ground. In taking a stand, we wrestle “against the powers of this dark world.” We also struggle “against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” We struggle here on earth; we struggle “in the heavenly realms” which is not to say we struggle in heaven itself. Rather, some of our struggles are physical; others are spiritual.

To withstand and even “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one,” (Ephesians 6:16) we need truth, righteousness, readiness in the gospel of peace, faith, our salvation, and God the Holy “Spirit, which is the Word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17) We need to “be alert” and “keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18)

Paul calls on us to “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” (Ephesians 6:10)

“Power In The Word” ( Job 37: 5-6, ESV ) by Carley Evans


“God thunders wondrously with His voice; He does great things that we cannot comprehend. For to the snow He says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ likewise to the downpour, His mighty downpour.”

God’s Word is the power behind His creative force; He speaks “wondrously with His voice” and things come into being. Snow forms, falls on the earth. Clouds roll up out of nothing and drop their rain in “His mighty downpour.” Science explains both snow and rain, but without God’s Word, His creative force, nothing would exist that exists, says Paul.

“For by Him all things are created: things in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16,17; NIV)

“In putting everything under [Christ, who is the Word], God leaves nothing that in not subject to Him.” (Hebrews 2:8)

The great things that God does through the power of His voice are “things that we cannot comprehend.” Imagine Jesus as His physical body is dying on the cross. Recall what He speaks right before the end. Yes, He says, “It is accomplished.” Remember the power within the Word of God. Remember also how He turns to the thief, who begs Jesus to remember him.

“Today, you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Remember the power in the Word of God.

“Let’s Reason Together” ( Isaiah 1: 18, ESV ) by Carley Evans


“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

God isn’t giving us an excuse to sin. Rather, He’s giving us His promise to make our sins as if they never were.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:12-14, NIV)

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy Name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits — He forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1-5, NIV)

“If It Is Evil” ( Joshua 24: 15, ESV ) by Carley Evans


“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve.”

The well-known part of this statement of Joshua is “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Of course, that is well and good; but think about the first part of his statement. Joshua says to the people of Israel,

“Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods.” (Joshua 24:2, HCSB)

Joshua reminds them that essentially the Lord chose them and brought the people out from the region beyond the Euphrates River when he took their father, Abraham. The Lord says,

“I gave you a land you did not labor for, and cities you did not build, though you live in them; you are eating from vineyards and olive groves you did not plant.” (Joshua 24:13, HCSB)

Joshua concludes,

“Therefore (because of this truth), fear the Lord and worship Him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship Yahweh.” (Joshua 24:14)

Don’t only do what your mother and father do, worshiping a god — or the Lord GOD — who grand-dad and grand-ma worship. Don’t only do what everyone else is doing. Make a decision for yourself. Mom and Dad’s salvation is not yours.

If it seems evil in your own mind to worship the Lord God, then don’t. But if you decide this, then actively choose the god you are going to follow. Don’t stumble along in life; make a choice. Don’t just do what others have done before you, mindlessly going through the motions of worship. Whatever your decision, make it your own.

Then Joshua tells the people his own choice.

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

“I Will Not!” ( Matthew 21: 29, NIV ) by Carley Evans


A father with two sons, says Jesus, comes to his first son and tells him to go work the vineyard. The son defiantly responds, “I will not!” I can imagine the anger and disappointment of the father. Later however, the man’s son changes his mind, goes to the vineyard and works it. In the meantime the father, who doesn’t know his first son is going to obey, goes to his other son and says the same thing, “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.” This son responds positively, saying: “I will, sir.” I can imagine the joy and pride of the father when he hears these words.

Like the first son, the other son does not follow his own words. Unlike the first son, however, he is disobedient. The father only finds out later which son is true, not to his own word, but to the word of his father.

We who are parents or managers or couples or friends – hey! that’s all of us – need to pay attention. Just because our spouse, child, employee, or friend appears defiant in what they say does not necessarily make it true. Or just because our spouse, child, employee, or friend appears compliant in what they say also does not necessarily make it true.

James indicates words are cheap. Actions are expensive.

“Whoever Is Kind” ( Proverbs 14: 21, 31; NIV ) by Carley Evans


“Blessed is he who is kind to the needy.”

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

Jesus speaks of the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. To the sheep, He says:

“Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.” (Matthew 25:34-36)

“I tell you the truth, whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you do for Me.” (Matthew 25:40)

What a frightening thought: to show contempt for the Maker of the poor, the “least of these brothers of [Jesus].” When we are given what matches our abilities, we are then expected to use those resources to show kindness to the needy, to those who have less than we do.

I find these scriptures very convicting this morning, as I approach the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. Food banks, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, some churches, some grocery stores are sending out pleas for money.

Perhaps you have money as the resource God has provided to you; or perhaps you have time. Maybe you have both money and time. Consider giving generously this year to those who are needy. Remember as you give to the poor, you give to Jesus.