“Everything and Yet, Nothing” (1 John 4:9 HCSB) by Carley Evans


God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

In the nitty-gritty of day-to-day living, people sometimes – perhaps many times – find God far away or even non-existent. God reveals His Love for people by sending His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ into the world so that people might see Him face to face and know His Love firsthand. (God blesses those who do not see Him face to face and nevertheless believe His Love is real.)

Q: What is the point? 

A: God reveals Himself so that people might live through Him.

Q: What does that mean?

A: Jesus tells us to throw off the burdens of life, pick up His yoke (which He reminds us is light and easy to bear) and follow Him.

Q: Where are we going?

A: Wherever He leads.

Q: What is the cost?

A: Everything; and yet nothing.

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“God Loves Doom?” ( Psalm 33:4-5 WYC ) by Carley Evans


In one of his many songs, David proclaims – at least in the Wycliffe translation of the Word – that God “loveth mercy and doom.” In parenthesis, the translator adds an alternative version: “[God] loveth righteousness and justice.”

On one hand, “mercy”; on the other “righteousness.” On one hand, “doom”; on the other hand “justice.” Even in the final phrase, on one hand, “mercy”; on the other “love.”

For the word of the Lord is rightful (For the word of the Lord is true); and all his works be (done) in faithfulness. He loveth mercy and doom; the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord. (He loveth righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the love of the Lord.)

Imagine God loving “doom.”

If you look around at the state of the world at large, God loving doom is not hard to imagine. Listen to the evening news and doom is all around you – earthquakes, erupting volcanos, tsunamis, rising sea levels, erratic weather patterns, droughts, fires. And this doom does not yet include what people do to you ( or what you do to people… )!

So, where’s the evidence that God loves mercy?

The evidence for God’s mercy is less compelling, you might say. But, I would argue the evidence of God’s mercy is the doom inflicted and endured by Him on the Cross. “All [God’s] works be done in faithfulness.”

 

“God Is Everywhere” ( Psalms 138:8, KNOX ) by Carley Evans


Satan before the Lord
Satan before the Lord (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I should climb up to heaven, thou art there; if I sink down to the world beneath, thou art present still. ( Psalms 138:8, KNOX )

A puzzle here in David’s words and in the oral rendition of the story of Job – God is everywhere! We imagine God is incapable of being in the presence of evil, but that is obviously not so. Yes, He turns from His Son at the Cross when all the sins of the world attach themselves to Jesus; but God is found even if we climb to the heavens or descend to the realms of death and hell. That the Lord comes into the presence of the Enemy, Satan is evident in the beginning moments of the story of Job.

One day, when the heavenly powers stood waiting upon the Lord’s presence, and among them, man’s Enemy, the Lord asked him, where he had been? Roaming about the earth, said he, to and fro about the earth.Why then, the Lord said, thou hast seen a servant of mine called Job. Here is a true man, an honest man, none like him on earth; ever he fears his God, and keeps far from wrong-doing. Job fears his God, the Enemy answered, and loses nothing by it. 10 Sheltered his life by thy protection, sheltered his home, his property; thy blessing on all he undertakes; worldly goods that still go on increasing; he loses nothing. 11 One little touch of thy hand, assailing all that wealth of his! Then see how he will turn and blaspheme thee. 12 Be it so, the Lord answered; with all his possessions do what thou wilt, so thou leave himself unharmed. And with that, the Enemy left the Lord’s presence, and withdrew. ( Job 1: 6-12, KNOX )

God’s ability and willingness to be in the presence of the Enemy is nearly as difficult to understand and accept as His ability and willingness to suffer and die. God is engaged with death and evil. To think He is not is to misunderstand Him. God does not create death and evil; but He allows both. In so many ways, He uses both. Why?

Some would say, “To manifest His Power.”

“For The Joy Set Before Him” ( Hebrews 12: 2, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


Jesus endures a cross and despises the shame associated with death on a tree “for the joy that lays before Him.” What is that joy set before Him? Yes, the joy is retaking His place “at the right hand of God’s throne.” But the other joy — the crucial joy — is becoming “the source and perfecter of our faith.” Jesus “endures such hostility from sinners against Himself” in order to save us from sin and from the wage of sin, that is — death. (Hebrews 12:3)

Because Jesus endures such pain and hostility in order to experience the joy of saving His people, we must “keep our eyes on Jesus” and “run with endurance the race that lies before us.” (Hebrews 12:2,1) As He keeps the joy in sight while He suffers on a cross, so we must keep the joy of being in Him in sight as we endure the troubles associated with life on earth. “In struggling against sin, [we] have not yet resisted to the point of shedding [our] blood” — that is true of many, if not most of us. (Hebrews 12:4)

“Just one thing: [we ought to] live [our] lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel, not being frightened in any way… For it has been given to [us] on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him.” (Philippians 1:27, 28, 29)

He is the source of our faith; and He perfects it. Amen.

“Victory In Humiliation” (Psalm 149: 4, NEB) by Carley Evans


“[God] crowns His humble folk with victory.”

Not often do we think that the humble folk in the world are the ones who have the victory in life. Usually, we look to those who have wealth, intelligence, power, influence to see victory.

Jesus’ victory comes in His humiliation. As He dies on the cross, He wins. He overcomes the world in that last moment of His human life, gaining the victory for us.

“Christ buys us freedom from the curse of the law by becoming for our sake an accursed thing; for Scripture says, ‘A curse is on everyone who is hanged on a gibbet.’ And the purpose of it all is that the blessing of Abraham should in Jesus Christ be extended to the Gentiles, so that we may receive the promised Spirit through Him.” (Galatians 3: 13 – 14)

Jesus’ willingness to be an accursed thing shows He is the ultimate humble person. Because of His humility God raises Him up to be “the effulgence of God’s splendor and the stamp of God’s very being.” (Hebrews 1: 2)

Jesus is crowned with victory. “He takes His seat at the right hand of Majesty on high, raised as far above the angels, as the title He has inherited is superior to theirs.” (Hebrews 1: 4)

“Listen!” (Matthew 20: 17 – 19, HCSB) by Carley Evans


Jesus knows beforehand He is to suffer in Jerusalem, and He privately warns His twelve disciples. He takes them aside, and says emphatically, “Listen! We are going up to Jerusalem.” Jesus is telling them to be prepared, to get ready for an event that alters His human life, their lives, and the lives of the rest of the world.

He says, “Get ready for the horrific events that are coming My way.”

Jesus also knows He is to be resurrected in Jerusalem; and is saying: “Get ready for the wonderful moment that is coming your way.”

After His crucifixion, His disciples are hiding, terrified having forgotten Jesus’ word, “Listen!” They are not ready, but the women — Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and others with them — are prepared before the Sabbath to bring spices and perfume to the body of their Lord, Jesus who is kindly taken from the Cross and entombed by Joseph, one of the Sanhedrin. They are not ready for His resurrection, but are dealing with an immediate need of His body.

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, [the women who came with Jesus from Galilee] come to the tomb, bringing the spices they have prepared. They find the stone rolled away from the tomb. They go in but do not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they are perplexed about this, suddenly two men stand by them in dazzling clothes. So the women are terrified and bow down to the ground. ‘Why are you looking for the living among the dead?’ ask the men. ‘He is not here, but He is resurrected!’ ” (Luke 23: 56, 24: 1 – 6)

All are devastated, doubting, and then amazed at the events Jesus predicts for them before they go up to Jerusalem. Not one is fully prepared.

Jesus says to us, “Listen!”

“All This From God” (2 Corinthians 5: 19 – 20, ESV) by Carley Evans


Sometimes we seem to forget that God reconciles the world to Himself via His Son, Jesus Christ. We seem to be under the impression that somehow we individually reconcile ourselves to God through Jesus Christ, His Son.

“All this is from God,” writes Paul, “who through Christ reconciles us to Himself.” (2 Corinthians 5: 18)

Paul does not write, “All this is from you, who — through Christ — reconcile yourself to God” as if Christ’s sacrificial work is secondary to your effort.

If we love God, it is only because He loves us first. In a way, it is as if God loves Himself via His Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

Paul’s message to us is one “of reconciliation, of “God not counting [our] trespasses against [us].” If God decides not to hold our sins against us, why are we so keen to hold them against each other? Why do we forget our sins are nailed forever on the Cross of Calvary?