“Not Against Us?” ( Mark 9: 34-40, WYC ) by Carley Evans


34 And they were still; for they disputed among them[selves] in the way, who of them should be [the] greatest.

35 And he 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].

36 And he took a child, and set him in the middle of them [in the midst of them]; and when he had embraced him, he said to them,

37 Whoever receiveth one of such children in my name [Whoever shall receive one of such children in my name], he receiveth me; and whoever receiveth me, he receiveth not me alone, but him that sent me.

38 John answered to him, and said [saying], Master, we saw one casting out fiends in thy name, which followeth not us, and we have forbidden him.

39 And Jesus said, Do not ye forbid him; for there is no man that doeth a work of power in my name [that doeth virtue in my name], and may soon speak evil of me.

40 [Forsooth] He that is not against us, is for us.

Can’t you see the twelve bickering among themselves over who is the greatest? Each one desiring to be closest to Jesus, desiring to be most admired by Him – can’t you imagine? Can’t you see them trying to stop an outsider from casting out demons in Jesus’ Name because “he is not one of us!”

Sometimes, we want an exclusive relationship with the Lord – no one else is allowed, especially outsiders. And often we forget Jesus embraces the child – the one who is innocent, unprotected, vulnerable, dependent. Instead we admire the powerful, the shrewd, the well-protected, the independent.

Jesus calls us to embrace children. As we act like Him and accept and receive the children in His Name, we find we also accept and receive Jesus and therefore accept and receive God, the Father. As we set aside our ambitions and seek to serve others, we find we are first. And we do not notice.

 

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“Against Darkness” ( Ephesians 6:12-13 DRA ) by Carley Evans


Our battle is not against other people. “Our wrestling” is rather “against the rulers of this darkness” and “against the spirits of wickedness.” We battle “principalities and power” that exist “in high places.”

For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.

And our position in this battle is defensive.

Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.

We are called to take up “the armour of God.” With this armor – the Word – we “resist in the evil day.” Our position in this battle is “to stand in all things perfect.”

And where is our perfection? In Christ. As we stand in Christ and in the Word of God, we overcome.

“Of Low Esteem” ( James 4:10 WYC ) by Carley Evans


Look at the following translations of the same verse written by James. In several versions, we humble ourselves before or in the sight of the Lord while in several other versions, we find ourselves humbled (or meeked) by an outside force, perhaps by God Himself or by other human beings. At any rate, whether we cast ourselves down or are cast down by others, as we allow ourselves to remain humble, the Lord will exalt or lift us.

The haughty spirit – the proud – this is the one the Lord must discipline. Jesus’ harshest words are for those who hold themselves in high esteem. The Lord lifts the ones who feel the most unworthy and often those we view as the least in the kingdom of God.

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

humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:10KNOX

Cast down yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10GNV

Be humbled in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:10DRA

“Renew Your Minds” ( Philippians 4:8, WYC ) by Carley Evans


Probably you’ve heard that it’s important to keep positive, to maintain a positive attitude especially when dealing with the public. You know the adage – “the customer is always right.” Don’t be negative; smile; maintain good eye contact. Be kind. Be professional.

 Paul writes:

From henceforth, brethren, whatever things be sooth, whatever things chaste, whatever things just, whatever things holy, whatever things able to be loved, whatever things of good fame, if any virtue, if any praising of discipline, think ye (on) these things,

Does Paul mean that we should fake it? – that we should just act positive no matter how we think or feel. No, I don’t think so. I believe he’s saying that we ought to be so enamoured with the Word of God that it transforms our thinking – our very pattern of thought so that our actions mirror our thoughts. And our thoughts ought to mirror God’s thoughts.

Not sure what God is thinking? Read His Word. Then you’ll know.

“A Perfect Work” ( James 1: 4-6, WYC ) by Carley Evans


James Bond Island
 (Photo credit: Jo@net)

Patience, steadfastness, determination – James says “patience has a perfect work.” With patience, you may become “perfect and whole, and fail in nothing.” And, if you are not wise enough to be patient, you need only ask God for His wisdom; but when you ask, ask in faith, not doubting. Don’t be like a wave on the sea, moved about at the whim of the moon and the wind.

“patience hath a perfect work, that ye be perfect and whole, and fail in nothing. [soothly patience hath a perfect work, that ye be perfect and whole, in nothing failing.] 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. But ask he in faith, and doubt nothing [nothing doubting]; for he that doubteth, is like to a wave of the sea, which is moved and borne about of the wind [the which of wind is moved and borne about].”

The great judge, Solomon speaks of fools as if they are on every street corner; and they are. We rush about, silly for pleasures, intrigued by this, then by that. We buy things to fill our voids. We ask our gods for more things when we tire of old things or exhaust the resources God gives.

Solomon cries out to his own son to flee folly and earnestly seek wisdom. Patience leads to a perfect work.

“Ask for the Good Stuff” ( Matthew 7:7-8, WYC ) by Carley Evans


Douglas_Hamilton, Wild Dogs...25.
Douglas_Hamilton, Wild Dogs…25. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before Jesus says this:

“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;”

He says not to throw your pearls to swine in case you are trampled to death by them or torn to pieces by wild dogs.

Before He warns of throwing yourself away, He warns not to judge others.

After He says to ask, seek, and knock, He reminds that God does not give bad things to His people, but only good things. Just as a parent does not give stones to hungry children, so God does not give worthless things to His children.

So, stop judging. Use discernment instead. And ask for what’s good, fully expecting to receive it. Seek it out so you find it. Knock and go in.

“A Puzzle” ( Galatians 6:7-8, WYC ) by Carley Evans


English: Jesus Christ, polychromed and gilded ...
English: Jesus Christ, polychromed and gilded woodcarved relief by Martin Vinazer (* 1674 in St. Ulrich in Gröden; † 1744) signed MVF (MV Fecit) Deutsch: Gefasstes Holzrelief des Martin Vinatzer gezeichnet MVF (MV Fecit) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Puzzling, yes? The Word of God teaches us two things which appear to be opposed. We are taught that God can not be scorned; that if we continue in sin, we pay the ultimate price – we die eternally, in corruption.

Roman Catholics get around this puzzle by teaching that some sin is minor – deemed venial or ‘easily forgiven’ – and does not lead to corruption while other sin is major – deemed mortal or ‘deadly’ – and will lead to eternal death, i.e. to damnation of the soul.

The bulk of the New Testament seems to teach, on the other hand, that sin is sin – that all sin leads to corruption. The problem then for mankind is what to do about sin. In Romans 7, Paul speaks of his woe – that the good he wants to do he can not do. He asks who will rescue him from his body of sin and death and then praises God that it is Christ who secures that rescue.

Yet, here in his letter to the church at Galatia, Paul warns that sin somehow hasn’t been nailed to the cross with Jesus.

“Do not ye err, God is not scorned; for those things that a man soweth, those things he shall reap [for why what things a man soweth, also these things he shall reap]. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh he shall reap corruption; but he that soweth in the Spirit, of the Spirit he shall reap everlasting life.”

Then there are those who claim that Christians – if they are true Christians – never sin. I presume this belief is to reconcile themselves to the many scriptural passages that imply that if a Christian commits a sin, then God can not be in his or her body. After all, a Christian is the temple of God the Holy Spirit. How can a holy God dwell inside an unholy thing?

Yet, Paul speaks of the deeds done in the body that are unworthy of God burning off as the Christian passes from life into death and from there into eternal life – the mortal being swallowed up by the immortal, so to speak. In these passages, Paul implies that Christians do indeed sin. We makes mistakes, yet we are saved though as through fire.

Sometimes, I imagine Paul himself struggling to fully understand the good news. The good news that we are saved while we are still sinners, that God loves us so much that He considers us His friends while we are still His mortal enemies.

Why would God die for us while we are dead in sin, and then turn away from us because we fail? I can’t imagine. I don’t think Paul was able to imagine that, either. Instead, he reminds us that God’s love for us is higher and deeper and wider than anything we have ever known; that Jesus Christ does for us more than we will ever understand while we remain on this earth.