Wondering What Had Happened (Luke 24:12, NIV) by Carley Evans


12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
Peter stood over the empty tomb where Jesus’ body was laid out just as Lazarus’ was once wrapped in linen strips and laid in a different grave. Peter examined the strips of linen, and even with the words of the women in his mind, wondered to himself what had happened.
How extraordinary that after all he saw and heard from Jesus, Peter didn’t know what the empty tomb meant.
Perhaps in shock, he forgot that Jesus foretold His death and missed that Jesus also foretold His return to the living. Jesus even rebuked Peter as “Satan” when Peter suggested that Jesus must not die. “You are thinking like men, not like God,” Jesus warned. Perhaps Peter pushed this confrontation from the forefront of his mind, still ashamed that he denied Jesus three times before the crow of the morning cock.
So now, Peter wondered what the empty tomb meant. A completely logical conclusion may have occurred to him — the body of the Lord Jesus must be stolen!
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” an angel asked Mary, the mother of James, Joanna, and Mary Magdalene who came to the tomb earlier with spices for the Lord’s body. The angel opened the women’s eyes and hearts to the truth, even asking if they remembered Jesus’ own words regarding the prophesies of the older covenant with God.
When the women returned to the Eleven to tell the truth of the Resurrection, no one believed them. The women’s words seemed like nonsense. But Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself.
Like Peter, each one of us must see the empty tomb, wonder and remember what it means.

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Woe to Hypocrites (Matthew 23: 23-27, NIV) by Carley Evans


23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

The appearance of morality makes some people believe they are actually moral. Some people convince themselves that by avoiding this or avoiding that, promoting this or promoting that, believing this or believing that, performing this or performing that — that these acts somehow make them holy; not only holy, but holier than someone else who hasn’t bothered to clean the outside of the cup and dish.

Cleaning the inside of the cup and dish is much trickier than we care to admit. And much harder than doing a quick spiff-up of the outside.

How do you rid yourself of lust, greed, self-hatred, hatred of others, anger, deceit, mean-spiritedness, and yes, hypocrisy?

Jesus says to clean the inside of yourself and then the outside will automatically be clean. He warns us not to put on a disguise but to become genuine from the inside out.

He tells us how to do this, too. He does not ask us to avoid this or that, do this or that — after all, He picked wheat on the Sabbath! Instead, He promises to reside inside us. By being inside us, He makes us clean — akin to having an automatic dishwasher inside our hearts!

This automatic dishwasher is God, the Holy Spirit. He gently but persistently reminds us that the most important matters of the Law — the Law Christ fulfilled by His Life and Death and Resurrection — are “justice, mercy, and faithfulness.”

I love how Jesus Christ links the three, making them one in Him.

Christians make…


Christians make … radical sacrifices because the overwhelming message of the gospel is that we must die to ourselves and live for Christ. And the way that He wants us to serve Him is to give sacrificially to our brothers and sisters in Christ, the down trodden, the unlovely, our enemies, and the poor. To everyone, really. The reason is not to earn our salvation or to force others to “submit” to our God, but because we are called to be a picture of Christ, the Christ who left his entitlements, comforts, and heavenly abode for those who did not know Him.

ASK THE BIGOT

“Making Jesus Palatable” ( Isaiah 53:3-4, KJV ) by Carley Evans


He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

Jesus, lounging at the table with His disciples and His traitor, shows them a cup and says that they must drink of it – of His blood – if they wish to be in Him and have Him be in them. Then He shows them a hunk of bread and tells them they must eat of it – of His flesh – if they are to be in Him and have Him be in them. The man who sits with them is not a pretty man. His skin though richly dark and olive, is not smooth. And, His eyes are set incorrectly – one slightly higher than the other; one perhaps “lazy.” His black hair is long and unkempt. He has a rough look about Him; as if He’s seen too much of life’s sufferings and injustices. When He stands to walk, His movements are awkward as if a load too big for any man is on His shoulders.

When He asks His friends to eat and drink Him, they obey. Only one leaves because Jesus asks him to go on and do what he must do. For His disciples, Jesus is palatable. They’ve come to know, trust, and love Him as best they can. For Judas, Jesus is utterly unpalatable.

Recently, I caught a headline that a young Christian girl found the Jesus in the film, SON OF GOD “too pretty.” I’m sure the filmmakers were attempting to make Jesus palatable to the un-churched un-believers.

Those of us who are known by Jesus realize Jesus can not be made palatable. His beauty is not of the external. Through the years since His death and resurrection, western artists – for the most part – have painted Him as blue-eyed, blonde, and fair-skinned and handsome, tall, healthy.

I have a strong feeling the Jesus we meet sitting at the right hand of God the Father will look more like the people of the Middle East than we care to believe; and that He will have a ‘wonky’ eye as depicted in some early Christian icons.

Let’s stop trying to make Jesus a physical beauty and remember who He is – the Son of God.

“Making God A Liar” ( I John 1: 8-10, KJV ) by Carley Evans


If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

No, I’m not a sinner. Yes, I am a sinner. But… I’m a sinner saved by grace. Now wait a minute; I’m saved. I do not sin anymore. If I sin, that proves the Holy Spirit is not in charge of me. And if the Holy Spirit is not in charge, then I am not saved. In fact, I am lost. If I am lost, then I am a sinner.

And so on. Circular reasoning?

The author of 1 John writes that “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” He adds that “if we say that we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar.”

If we claim to be sinless, “[God’s] Word is not in us.”

What we are to do is:

1) Recognize that we are sinners.

2) Confess our sins which we fall into each and every day.

3) Trust that God forgives these sins and make us righteous by His sacrifice.

“My Portion is God” ( Psalm 73:25-26 WYC ) by Carley Evans


For why what is to me in heaven; and what would I of thee on earth? (For what is there for me in heaven, but thee? and what else do I desire here on earth, but thee?) My flesh and mine heart failed; God of mine heart, and my part is God [into] without end. (Though my flesh and my heart fail; but God is my strength, and my portion forever.)

David could be the weary and suffering Job in this passage. Here David speaks perhaps after the shame of murdering Uriah so as to have Bathsheba; perhaps after the death of his son. At any rate, David sings that even if his flesh and heart fail, God is his strength and his portion forever. David rhetorically asks, What else in heaven and earth do I desire? And his answer is, Nothing but You, God.

This truth is what Job discovers in his ordeal. At the end of his rope, so to speak, Job realizes that only God matters, that everything else is a pale shadow compared to Him. Job’s devotion to God does not, however, diminish his love of others or his view of himself. Rather, as Job falls in humility before God, God lifts him up and places him above where he was in the first place.

What do we desire?

“Love, Don’t Talk” (1 John 3:18 HCSB) by Carley Evans


Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

My little sons, love we not in word, neither in tongue, but in work and truth. (Wycliffe)

But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (King James Version)

Jesus says exactly the same thing as His disciple says. Jesus says that the least kindness you show to the least is a kindness you show to Him – if you visit the prisoner, you visit Jesus. If you feed the homeless man, you feed Jesus. If you adopt the orphan, you adopt our Lord. And so on.

If we talk love but never show love, then the love of God is not in us. Worse, if we talk love and show hate, then our spirit is not of the Holy Spirit but of our own corrupted nature. We are like pigs remaining in our own mud and corn husks.

God calls us to love in action, not in talk.