“Trust The God Of Hope” ( Romans 15: 13, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Through His Holy Spirit, God “gives endurance and encouragement.” (Romans 15:5) “The God of hope fills [us] with all joy and peace as [we] trust in Him.” (Romans 15:13) “[We] overflow with hope.” (Romans 15:13) “To the [people] who do not work but trust God who justifies the wicked, [our] faith is credited as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5) “Therefore, [we] glory in Christ Jesus in [our] service to God. [We] do not venture to speak of anything except what Christ accomplishes through [us] in leading [others] to obey God by what [we] say and do — through the power of the Spirit.” (Romans 15:17-19)

Notice we begin with God and end with Him as well — His Holy Spirit encourages us and enables us to endure; giving us hope, joy and peace. We find our glory in Jesus Christ and our power through His Holy Spirit. “Since we are now justified by His blood, how much more are we saved from God’s wrath through Him!” (Romans 5:9)

So, continue to trust God. Through trust in Him, we overflow with hope.

“Salt And Light” ( Matthew 5: 11 – 12, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“How blest you are, when you suffer insults and persecution and every kind of calumny for My sake. Accept it with gladness and exultation, for you have a rich reward in heaven; in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.”

 

Jesus isn’t saying that we should provoke unbelievers into persecuting us. We are not to seek “every kind of calumny” but to “accept it with gladness and exultation” when it comes our way, as it is bound to now and again. Most of the time the insults prove to be remarks against our God and Savior not against us. Unbelievers usually think Christians are stupid, naive, or at our worst — narrow minded.

 

More likely Jesus is saying that a natural outcome of being a Christian is insult and persecution because: we are salt; salt stings the wounds. We are light; light exposes the dark. No one enjoys pain; no one who remains in sin wants to come into the light and be exposed. Therefore, a natural consequence of living for Christ is suffering abuse from those who do not believe. Accept it, but don’t deliberately seek it. Jesus says that is unnecessary for “in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.”

 

Suffering for Christ is most evident in countries like China, where Christians are actively abused. These Christians “have a rich reward in heaven.” Those of us who will never suffer this kind of “calumny” must pray for those Christians who do. We must remember that they are blessed beyond our understanding. They are truly salt and light.

“Focus On One Goal” ( Philippians 2: 1 – 2, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


Paul asks us — as Christians — to “focus on one goal.” Our single goal is to “make [our] own attitudes that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2: 5) Christ, though equal with God the Father, empties Himself and takes on “the likeness of men,” humbling Himself “by becoming obedient to the point of death.” (Philippians 2: 6 – 8) Jesus surrenders His place of glory for “the interests of others.” (Philippians 2: 4)

Paul asks us to be and do the same as Jesus — reminding us that we have “encouragement in Christ.” We have “consolation of love.” We have “fellowship with the Spirit.” We have “affection and mercy.” Given these, we also should think like one another, share the same love as one another, share the same feelings as one another and focus on that single goal of being like Jesus.

“Falsely Accused” (Matthew 10: 19 – 20, NEB) by Carley Evans


Jesus speaks of brother turning against brother in betrayal; of father standing in hatred against his own child; of children despising and sending their own parents to death. He speaks of Christians being arrested, taken into court, accused — for His sake — presumably of all sorts of false charges.

And Jesus encourages us, “Do not worry about what you are to say; when the time comes, the words you need will be given you; for it is not you who will be speaking; it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking in you.”

Wait for God’s timing. Do not fret over what you are to say when someone — perhaps even someone who professes to love you — betrays you. In His timing, God gives you His Word to speak to that someone. Rest assured; you are not on your own.

“Obligations” (Romans 13: 6 – 7, HCSB) by Carley Evans


Paul commands us to “pay [our] obligations to everyone: taxes to those [we] owe taxes.” Paul is not an anarchist; he does not call for us to overthrow our government.

Look at the government Paul is commanding Christians of his day to obey — a corrupt system which nevertheless provides roads, schools, access to water and to medical care while simultaneously providing temples for the worship of false gods and arenas for horrific forms of entertainment.

Today is no different — we are to pay our taxes, vote our consciences, express our disagreements with respect. Paul commands, “Pay your obligations to everyone: respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.”

“You Will Find Rest” (Psalm 119: 143, ESV) by Carley Evans


What has found me out, discovered me after a long hunt? Turns out that “trouble and anguish have found me out.” And this pain is the common ground of all men and women, boys and girls.

 

“My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. And I say, ‘Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” (Psalm 55: 4 – 6)

The difference is that, in the midst of this terror, Christians find delight in God’s commands.

“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” says Jesus. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I Am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28 – 30)