“Ready To Forgive” ( Psalm 86:5, KJV ) by Carley Evans

In Brooklyn this fall, my daughter and I attended a street fair centered around the arts — In one particular open air building, several people were giving away large, colorful bags. A few other people were handing out orangeade and lemonade sodas — for FREE! We were even allowed to come back for seconds — yes, the sodas were very good! on a hot day in New York.

David the psalmist sings:

“For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.”

Of course, the difference between the street givers and the Lord is immense — the street givers are actually advertisers; they expect you to purchase their products at a later time and in great quantity. They hope this, anyway. On the other hand, God truly gives. Yes, He has expectations. His hope is that you will accept His gift so He may have a relationship with you through His Son, Jesus via His Holy Spirit.

And no need for seconds — this relationship lasts your lifetime and His!

“Support Each Other In Charity” ( Ephesians 4:2, WYC ) by Carley Evans

Luca Cambiaso - Virgin with the Christ Child i...

Charity is benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity, generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering, and lenient judgment of others.

Remember what the angel and the heavenly host say to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth?

“10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:10-14, KJV)

Paul reminds us to support each other “in charity,” writing:

“with all meekness and mildness, with patience supporting each other in charity [with patience supporting, or up-bearing, together in charity]”

Paul also tells us that “now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, KJV) Charity — benevolent good will, lenience in judgment, willingness to alleviate suffering.

Whose charity comes to mind? If you do not immediately see Jesus healing all who came to Him, raising the dead, feeding the hungry crowds, dying on the cross for you; then you’re missing the true meaning of charity.



“The Last Of All” ( Mark 9:35 WYC ) by Carley Evans

A belayer belaying a lead climber at Mt. Piddi...
Image via Wikipedia

The person on belay at a climbing wall is the ‘servant’ and the ‘last’ of all. The climber rises securely from hand-hold and foot-hood to hand-hold and foot-hold while attached by rope to the one ‘on belay’ below. The one on belay — the belay-er — catches the falling climber, and so saves him or her from injury or even death. The climber reaches the top while the one on belay remains on the ground, diligently protecting the one rising above.

“And [Jesus] sat, and called the twelve, and said to them [and saith to them], If any man will be the first among you, he shall be the last of all, and the minister of all [and minister, or servant, of all].”

How does the one who remains on the ground, serving the one rising to the top become first? Believe me, if you’ve ever belayed you do not feel like the one getting the ‘best deal!’ Belaying is hard work, especially when a climber falls repeatedly. You must be ready to catch the falling body, and long before it falls to strike the ground. Catching a falling climber can be gut-wrenching, both physically and emotionally. It’s a bit scary to see someone lose footing or hand-hold and fall even a few feet. And, if you are not well anchored yourself, the climber’s fall can literally yank you off your feet and put both of you in danger.

Jesus calls each of the twelve to be last, to be the servant of the others. He expects each to be well anchored in truth so as to keep his footing.

If, as servant to all, you keep your footing, then you being ‘first’ is beside the point. Isn’t it?

“Worship In Spirit” ( John 4:24, WYC ) by Carley Evans

The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove, surrounded...

For Adam and Eve, knowing God is easy in contrast to us, who must come to know God through a veil of shadow, sin, and death. Why do you think the veil between us and the holy of holies is ripped asunder when Jesus dies? The veil is torn in two to demonstrate we no longer need struggle; from now on we know God because He knows us. We love God because He first loves us.

“[I Am] a Spirit, and it behooveth them that worship [Me], to worship in spirit and truth.”

“For why My thoughts be not your thoughts, and My ways be not your ways, saith the Lord.”
(Isaiah 55:8)

Worship of God, who is Spirit, must proceed from our spirit. Our flesh is incapable of worshiping the Lord. Indeed, the Holy Spirit within us is the One who actually worships God in and through us. This is similar to allowing a current to carry you down a river; the more you struggle the more you disrupt the flow and the more likely you are to sink.

Leave the flesh worship behind. Worship God in spirit and in truth.

“In All Things Stand Perfect” ( Ephesians 6:12-13 WYC ) by Carley Evans

Images abound of the ‘armour of God’ we are to put on and take up —  Paul envisions helmet, breastplate, shield, shin guards, and sword as if we are soldiers standing in battle.

“For why striving is not to us against flesh and blood [For striving, or battle, is not to us against flesh and blood], but against [the] princes and potentates, against governors of the world of these darknesses, against spiritual things of wickedness, in heavenly things. Therefore take ye the armour of God, that ye be able to against-stand in the evil day; and in all things stand perfect.”

We are to “against-stand in the evil day; and in all things stand perfect.”

Notice against what we are to stand — not “against flesh and blood.” Rather our battle is against “spiritual things of wickedness, in heavenly things.” And what is “the armour of God” that makes you “able to against-stand in the evil day?”

The most readily available piece of armour we own is the Word — the Word indwelling, the Word written. With the Word of God, we “in all things stand perfect.”

“God’s Handiwork” ( James 4:10, WYC ) by Carley Evans

James calls us to be humble, modest, meager, self-effacing, submissive, despirited, or broken willed “in the sight of the Lord.” He writes:

“Be ye meeked in the sight of the Lord, and he shall enhance you.”

If you’ve ever had the privilege of seeing monks in prayer while prostate on the floor before the Host, then you understand “meeked” as used by James in his letter to Jewish Christians living among Gentiles outside Palestine. Trappist monks, in particular, live meager, modest, humble lives of hospitality and silence. The more submissive, the more self-effacing, the more “broken-willed” and “despirited” a monk appears “in the sight of the Lord,” the more God appears to enhance the man.

You may notice this enhancement in the eyes or in the easy smile. But, you will become aware of God’s handiwork.

“What’s Offensive About Good News?” ( Acts 13: 48, NIV ) by Carley Evans

“All who are appointed for eternal life believe.” (Acts 13:48, NIV)

Luke records the truth that Paul and Barnabas “have to speak the Word of God to [Israel] first.” (Acts 13:46) Only Israel’s rejection and their inability to “consider [themselves] worthy of eternal life” open the door for Paul and Barnabas to take the good news to the Gentiles.

Israel is God’s own people. They are appointed — decided on beforehand; designated — for eternal life. Among the Gentile nations are people “appointed for eternal life,” and these people believe when they hear the good news. How can they believe if no one preaches? asks Paul.

How offensive is God’s sovereign choice? How disturbing is the good news? When the Gentiles hear Paul say “the Lord commands us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47) “they are glad.” (Acts 13:48) Those designated beforehand honor the Word of God, and believe just as God decides.

“[Christ] comes to that which is His own, but His own do not receive Him. Yet to all who receive Him, to those who believe in His Name, He gives the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:11-13)

“In Spirit Of Softness” ( Galatians 6:1, WYC ) by Carley Evans

“In spirit of softness,” approach the person “occupied in guilt” — in any guilt — to inform him or her of the way out. The way out of being occupied by guilt, of course, is Jesus Christ, and Him crucified and glorified. And while informing the other person so as to restore them to wholeness, “behold [yourself], lest that [you] be tempted.”

“Brethren, if a man be occupied in any guilt, ye that be spiritual, inform ye such one in spirit of softness, beholding thyself, lest that thou be tempted.”

Paul calls us to be gentle with each other, recognizing that we each are as prone to guilt as the next. We who are spiritual, says Paul, may teach the one who is occupied in any guilt; but, our teaching must be done with softness.

We know our lives are snatched from death by the Holy Spirit; our task is to remind our brother or sister who is stuck in the mire of guilt that God forgives and restores.

“Need Any Wisdom?” ( James 1:5, WYC ) by Carley Evans

James may as well be a carnival barker for as many times as a person seriously asks God for wisdom. I’m being a bit harsh here, I know. But, my impression of what we ask God to give us is not for Him to give us wisdom. The requests are more akin to: success, good health, power, wealth, friends, and – ah yes – souls. The last request, of course, requires wisdom from God and is the most noble of the six desires. How many times, however, do we ask for the salvation of a soul without also asking God for the required wisdom?

James reminds:

“And if any of you needeth wisdom, ask he of God, which giveth to all men largely [that giveth to all men largely], and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to him.”

Wisdom is “accumulated philosophic or scientific learning : knowledge. Wisdom is the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : insight. Wisdom is good sense : judgment. Wisdom is generally accepted belief. Wisdom is a wise attitude, belief, or course of action. Finally, wisdom is the teachings of the ancient wise men” — think Proverbs referred to as the Books of Wisdom.

What we need from God is knowledge, insight, and judgment. What we ask for is power and prosperity.

God “upbraideth not.” He freely gives His wisdom; if only we seek it.

“Why Knock?” ( Matthew 7:7-8, WYC ) by Carley Evans

Jesus says, Ask, and take; seek, and find. But He also says, knock, and watch the door open. Presumably He implies for us to go in once the door is open. Who stands in an open doorway and doesn’t enter the room? I can tell you a story — in hospital, often I stand in the door frame to speak quickly to a nurse about some piece of information without entering the room; I am half-in, half-out. This is to avoid having to put on a gown and gloves. Inconvenience and legitimate caution keep me from going into the room. Most of the time, however, when we knock on a door and it opens, we enter the room. Jesus tells us:

“Ask ye, and it shall be given to you; seek ye, and ye shall find; knock ye, and it shall be opened to you. For each that asketh, taketh; and he that seeketh, findeth; and it shall be opened to him, that knocketh.”

Jesus also tells us:

“Lo! I stand at the door, and knock; if any man heareth my voice, and openeth the gate to me [if any man shall hear my voice, and open the gate], I shall enter to him, and sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:19-21, WYC)

Here Jesus knocks, and we open the door. Jesus asks, and takes. Jesus seeks, and finds. We open the gate, and He “enters to [us]”. He “sups with [us], and [we] with [Him].”

I want to focus, for just a moment, on the use of “take” for “receive.” Receipt of a thing is passive, but taking of a thing is active. I like the choice of the word “take” in the Wycliffe translation. Jesus always means for His people to be active, never passive! We are asking, taking, seeking, finding, knocking, going in.

What are we asking to gain? What are we seeking to find? What door are we knocking to open? The Word of God is the best answer I’ve come up with this morning.