“On His Shoulders, Our Guilt” ( Isaias 53:5-6, KNOX ) by Carley Evans


Who does this to Jesus? Is it the Romans? Is it Herod? Is it Pilate? Is it the Jews? (we hear this one, don’t we?) Is it me? Or you? Is it Satan? Is it God the Father?

“and all the while it was for our sins he was wounded, it was guilt of ours crushed him down; on him the punishment fell that brought us peace, by his bruises we were healed. Strayed sheep all of us, each following his own path; and God laid on his shoulders our guilt, the guilt of us all.”

Our sins put Jesus on the cross; that’s certain. But God the Father puts the guilt of our sins on His Son. Otherwise, we carry our guilt to the grave and beyond. Jesus’ bruises – the punishment He bears – free us from the same. Rather than anxiety, we gain peace.

Who does this? God the Father.

Do you suppose the Great Physician then decides to let us fall back into guilt? Wallow around it in like pigs? Shame on us if we even attempt to return to our squalor. For we are washed in His Son’s very blood.

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“Even When We Are Enemies” ( 1 Peter 5: 10, ESV ) by Carley Evans


Peter writes that after we suffer awhile, specifically a little while, “the God of all grace, who calls [us] to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish [us].” God isn’t going to relegate His responsibilities to anyone else, including us. Yes, Peter calls us to resist our adversary who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:9,8) But Peter knows, as should we, that it is God the Holy Spirit who enables us to “be sober-minded [and] watchful” and to stand “firm in [our] faith.” (1 Peter 5:8,9) This is the reason Peter exhorts us to “cast all [our] anxieties on Him.” After all, says Peter, Christ “cares for [us].”

Jesus cares for us. Let that truth sink into your heart. Jesus loves us. He loves us enough to give His life for us. Even when we are His enemies, He dies for us. Paul reminds us that if Jesus is willing to die for us when we are His enemies, how much more is He willing and able to give to us now that He has made us His friends!

“True To His Promise” ( Psalm 119: 143, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“Though I am oppressed by trouble and anxiety, Thy commandments are my continual delight.”

 

“I hope for the fulfillment of Thy Word.” (Psalm 119:147) “Hear me, as Thy Love is unchanging, and give me life, O Lord, by Thy decree.” (Psalm 119:149) “I am jubilant over Thy promise, like a man carrying off much booty.” (Psalm 119:162)

 

Despite trouble, despite oppression, despite anxiety – the psalmist expresses hope and joy “like a man carrying off much booty.” The psalmist declares that he is rich with God’s Word, enlarged by God’s Love, upheld by God’s commandments, saved by God’s decreed promise.

 

“Let my cry of joy reach Thee, O Lord; give me understanding of Thy Word. Let my supplication reach Thee; be true to Thy promise and save me.” (Psalm 119:169-170) Then, the psalmist sings: “I have strayed like a lost sheep; come, search for Thy servant, for I have not forgotten Thy commandments.” (Psalm 119:176)

 

The psalmist reminds God that yes, he knows God’s commandments, loves God’s commandments yet he also acknowledges that he “has strayed like a lost sheep” and needs God to “search” for him. The psalmist relies on God to act the part of the good Shepherd — One who searches for the lost and rejoices when His sheep are found.

“Do Not Flatter Yourselves” ( Proverbs 27: 1, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“Do not,” writes the wise man, “flatter yourself about tomorrow, for you never know what a day will bring forth.” James says, “A word with you, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there trading and making money.’ Yet you have no idea what tomorrow will bring. Your life, what is it?  You are no more than a mist, seen for a little while and then dispersing. What you ought to say is: ‘If it be the Lord’s will, we shall live to do this or that.’ But instead you boast and brag, and all such boasting is wrong.” (James 4:13-16)

Jesus tells us, “Set your mind on God’s kingdom and His justice before everything else, and all the rest will come to you as well. So do not be anxious about tomorrow; tomorrow will look after itself. Each day has troubles enough of it own.” (Matthew 6:33-34)

God warns us not to brag about our own deeds; those we plan for today or tomorrow. We are not to be arrogant, saying that we will do this or that. We are also not to worry about our futures with anxiety about what might happen or not happen to us. Instead we are to “set [our] minds on God’s kingdom,” recognizing that “it is God who works in [us], inspiring both the will and the deed, for His own good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)

“God Is With Us” (Psalm 94: 18 – 19, NEB) by Carley Evans


“When I feel my foot is slipping, Your love, O Lord, holds me up. Anxious thoughts may fill my heart, but Your presence is my joy and my consolation.”

I slip, but God holds me up so that I do not fall. I am anxious, but God is close by; His presence keeps me joyful and consoled. God does not say to me, ‘you will never slip.’ He does not say to me, ‘you will never be worried.’ Instead, He promises to be there for me, whatever my circumstance, whatever my failure.

“Humble yourselves then under God’s mighty hand, and He will lift you up in due time. Cast all your cares on Him, for you are His charge.” (1 Peter 5: 6 – 7)

Remember, “there is no room for fear in love; perfect love banishes fear. For fear brings with it the pains of judgement, and anyone who is afraid has not attained to love in its perfection. We love because He loves us first.” (1 John 4: 18)

Know that God is ready to give us all good things, for He does not withhold His Son from us. Fear not, God is with us.

“Have You Ever?” (Luke 12: 6 – 7, NEB) by Carley Evans


“Have no fear; you are worth more than any number of sparrows.”

We live in such fear and anxiety, worry and paranoia. Any minute, some dread disease is to befall us; any minute, a spouse is to betray us; any minute, a child is to die untimely; any minute, a fire is to consume our home. The horrors of life are all around us; and we live in fear of them.

But, these are common to us all. Not one of us escapes them. Some people may appear to be better off than others; but it is a trick of perspective and not reality.

Yet, Jesus says we are known fully; even the hairs on our heads are counted. We are worth more than grass, more than flowers, more than sparrows, more than the money in our pockets. That God cares for us is what we sometimes doubt. We look at the terrible events in our lives or — for an ultimate look at suffering — in the life of Job, and we wonder what sort of God is this. He is a mystery.

He loves us with a mighty love, a love we cannot fathom.

God asks, “In all your life have you ever called up the dawn or shown the morning its place? Have you taught it to grasp the fringes of the earth and shake the Dog-star from its place; to bring up the horizon in relief as clay under a seal, until all things stand out like the folds of a cloak, when the light of the Dog-star is dimmed and the stars of the Navigator’s Line go out one by one? Have you descended to the springs of the sea or walked in the unfathomable deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you?” (Job 38: 13 – 16)

And we can only answer, “No.”

Jesus says, “Think of the lilies: they neither spin nor weave; yet, I tell you, even Solomon in all his splendour was not attired like one of these. But if that is how God clothes the grass, which is growing in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown on the stove, how much more will He clothe you!” (Luke 12: 27 – 28)

“Have no fear, little flock; for Your Father has chosen to give you the Kingdom.” (Luke 12: 32)

“Be Thankful For Everything” (1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18, ESV) by Carley Evans


“Rejoice always,” writes Paul. “Give thanks in all circumstances.”

How? By realizing that your circumstances are arranged by God’s will. And, if you are uncomfortable with those circumstances, “pray without ceasing.” Yet, simultaneously, “rejoice.” Be thankful to God for everything.

For, God is perfect. His will for your life is perfect.

Even more wonderful, God knows your needs before you do. He anticipates your failures, your sins, your hurts. He makes the path ahead, every smooth portion, each bump along the way is known by Him.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5: 6 – 7)