“The One Who Remains in Love” (1 John 4:16, HCSB) by Carley Evans


Real love, genuine agape love is unconditional, period. If you doubt this truth, re-read Paul in his first letter to the church at Corinth. He boldly tells the church – a church battling crippling sins – that “love is kind” and “keeps no record of wrongs.”

And in his first letter, John writes:

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

John doesn’t write, “The one who remains in God remains in love.” Rather, he turns it on its heels and states emphatically that “the one who remains in love remains in God.” You cannot hate people who you are able to see and touch while you claim to love God. You can not refuse to forgive others while expecting God to forgive you. Frankly love and hate are like oil and water – incompatible in the mix.

You can not be a Christian and hate people.

“Give Thanks” ( Psalm 136: 23 -24, NIV ) by Carley Evans


“His love endures forever,” writes an anonymous psalmist. “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.” (Psalm 136:1) “Give thanks to the Lord of lords: to the One who remembers us in our low estate His love endures forever. and frees us from our enemies, His love endures forever.

In the garden of Eden, Adam – after falling to temptation – tries to hide from God who “remembers [man] in [his] low estate.” Though God soon banishes Adam from earthly paradise, He also sets His plan in motion — His plan to “free [man] from [his] enemies.”

“Give thanks to the Lord, to Him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:4)

The greatest wonder of God is His willingness to sacrifice His Son – Himself – on the cross for Adam’s salvation. Even as the angels bar the way back to earthly paradise, God provides the narrow gate to a heavenly paradise.

“Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:26)

“My Brother, Jesus” ( Psalm 139: 23-24, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“Examine me, O God, and know my thoughts; test me, and understand my misgivings. Watch lest I follow any path that grieves [You]; guide me in the ancient ways.”

 

“Lord, [You] examine me and know me. [You] know all, whether I sit down or rise up; [You] discern my thoughts from afar. [You] trace my journey and my resting places, and are familiar with all my paths. For there is not a word on my tongue but [You], Lord, know them all. [You] keep close guard before me and behind and spread [Your] hand over me. Such knowledge is beyond my understanding, so high I cannot reach it. Where can I escape from [Your] spirit? Where can I flee from [Your] presence? If I climb up to heaven, [You] are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, again I find [You.]” (Psalm 139:1-8)

 

God knows me from before the creation of time and space, before I was conceived and certainly before I was born into the earthly realm. I belong to Him always; there’s never been a time I was not His. “[God] it was who did fashion my inward parts; [He] knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13) “In Christ He chose [me] before the world was founded, to be dedicated, to be without blemish in His sight, to be full of love, and He destined [me] — such was His will and pleasure — to be accepted as His son through Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3-5)

 

God understands “my misgivings.” He tests me every moment to see how much my character is molded to His Son’s; how close I am to being like my brother, Jesus Christ. I pray for Him to continue to “keep close guard before me and behind and spread [His] hand over me.” I am glad that I am incapable of fleeing “from [His] presence;” that wherever I go, God is there. I am always able to find Him because He always knows my location, my thoughts, my weaknesses. And, I know — despite my failings — He loves me just as He loves my brother, Jesus.

“That Your Soul May Live” ( Isaiah 55: 8 – 9, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Humans are made in the image of God — in some ways we reflect Him. Yet, God tells us: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Essentially God is telling us that He is not evil and is not the author of evil. He says to us, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:7) While the thoughts of the human being are evil, the thoughts of our God are good.

God promises, “My Word will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I send it.” (Isaiah 55:11) He says, “My salvation is close at hand and My righteousness will soon be revealed.” (Isaiah 56:1) God reaches out to us, saying: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to Me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to Me; hear Me, that your soul may live.” (Isaiah 55:1-3) “My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed.” (Isaiah 54:10)

“This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from Me,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 54:17)

“Progenitor Of Love” ( 1 John 4: 9, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


The author of the first letter of John writes of love, of what love is and of its progenitor — God. “Love consists in this: not that we love God, but that He loves us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) This amazing 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.” (1 John 4:9)

Living through Christ allows us to know the love of God, for as God the Father loves His Son, so He also loves His Son’s brothers — that is, us. We are adopted into God’s family as children, and “if children, also heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ — seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:17) “The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:15) “In the same way, the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)

The Holy Spirit Himself prays for us to God the Father, reminding Him of His Son’s ultimate sacrifice, and the effectiveness of the Blood of Christ in washing away our failings, mistakes, omissions, and sins. God the Father looks at us, and sees Jesus. In the same way, we should look at one another and see our brother, Jesus Christ. We should love one another as He loves us.

Always remember, it is “not that we love God.” (1 John 4:10) The truth is that “God is love.” (1 John 4:16)

“A Vast Land” ( Isaiah 33: 22, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“And none there will say, ‘I am sick.’ The people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity.” (Isaiah 33:24) “For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our King. He will save us.”

 

“[Our] eyes will see the King in His beauty; [we] will see a vast land. [Our] minds will meditate on the past terror: ‘Where is the accountant? Where is the tribute collector? Where is the one who spied out our defenses?’ [We] will no longer see the barbarians, whose speech is difficult to comprehend — who stammer in a language that is not understood. Look at Zion, the city of our festival times, [Our] eyes will see Jerusalem, a peaceful pasture, a tent that does not wander; its tent pegs will not be pulled up nor will any of its cords be loosened. For the majestic One, our Lord, will be there, a place of rivers and broad streams where ships that are rowed will not go, and majestic vessels will not pass.” (Isaiah 33:17-21)

 

In His vast land, we will dwell. We will bring nothing to this land but ourselves. We will be presented to the Lord our God as vessels of His Holy Spirit, cleansed of all iniquity, of all imperfection — “holy and blameless in His sight.” We will be welcomed as the prodigal son was welcomed by his father — with the fattened calf and the wine of God’s love. And there will never again be sorrow or terror, tears or fears. Only joy awaits us.

“A Wisdom God Predestined” ( 1 Corinthians 2: 9, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“We do speak a wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:6-8)

Paul continues by paraphrasing Isaiah, stating that no one has seen or heard or even imagined what “God prepared [in advance] for those who love Him.”

What did God prepare?

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul writes: “For [God] chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself.” (Ephesians 1:4-5)

God prepared for us adoption into His family. He prepared us “for Himself.” He anticipated our ultimate glory — and so continues to prepare us “to be holy and blameless in His sight.”

Paul writes, “We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.” (Ephesians 1:7)

God prepared for us our “redemption.” He planned to save us in advance of our fall into damnation. He prepared us to be owned by Him as His “possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:14)

“For this reason,” writes Paul, “I pray that [God] may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14,16-19)

“On Our Lips” (Psalm 42: 8, NEB) by Carley Evans


“The Lord makes His unfailing love shine forth alike by day and night; His praise on my lips is a prayer to the God of my life.”

God’s love never fails; it shines on us, and from within us, both day and night — twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. God’s love is permanent. His love does not waver, fade, dilly-dally, pout, wander, hurt. His love is pure.

Our praise of Him is our prayer, acceptable to God even as we fail Him. Gratitude is our response. We are grateful for our lives, for His gifts, for His guidance, for our salvation, for His love.

When all else fails us, we know He does not. He is always present, always loving-kind. Open our lips: let us praise the Lord our God.

“Yet I Will Rejoice” (Habakkuk 3: 19, NIV) by Carley Evans


(June 8, 2010 8:42pm)

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I rejoice in the Lord, I am joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3: 17 – 18)

Though the bank account is empty and there is no food in the refrigerator, though the job expected does not come to fruition and no job is in sight, though friends are seemingly scarce to non-existent and there is no one nearby to whom to turn, yet rejoice in the Lord, be joyful in God the Savior.

God is our strength. We run like deer traversing rugged, even treacherous ground, and God gives us sure feet. We do not stumble as we go up to the heights. Our God is sovereign, and His complete control reassures us that we are safe even here on the edge of the cliff.

We are enabled by God Himself. We do not fall so as not to recover.

“Perfected In Us” (John 13: 34 – 35; 1 John 4: 10; ESV) by Carley Evans


“By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,” says Jesus.

The author of 1 John reminds us that LoVe is of God, for it is not that we love Him but that He loves us. We know the essence of LoVe in that Jesus gave up “His life for us.” (1 John 3: 16)

“LoVe is from God.” (1 John 4: 7)

If we seek to change the world’s view of us and of God, then we will treat one another with humility, kindness, respect, thoughtfulness, courtesy, honesty, gentleness, and love. If we say, “I love God,” but treat our brothers and sisters in Christ with contempt, anger, distrust, disrespect, rudeness, and hatred, then we present God as irrelevant to the world; for we show that He is irrelevant to us, in this case.

God’s “LoVe is perfected in us” as we love one another. (1 John 4: 12)

In a real sense, we have an opportunity to reflect the LoVe of God to the world. Instead, so often, we present God as back-biting, mean, hateful, vengeful, slanderous, discourteous, angry, and out of touch.

Dearest brothers and sisters in Christ, let us set aside hatred of self and others, and let us fill our hearts with God’s LoVe, reminding ourselves and one another how Jesus lays down His life for us and for the world.

We love because He first loves us.