“The Mystery: Christ In You” (Colossians 1: 27 – 28, HCSB) by Carley Evans

God intends to “make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Paul and Timothy continue to pray, “asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1: 9 – 10)

The hope in you is “you are rescued…from the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him.” (Colossians 1: 13 – 14)

Paul and Timothy “proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that [they] may present everyone mature in Christ.”

Paul and Timothy wish and work for the maturity of Christians, that each bears fruit, grows in knowledge of God, and understands God’s will. Paul intends to “make God’s message fully known.” (Colossians 1: 25) He warns, “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit.” (Colossians 2: 8) Base your walk on Christ, “for the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you are filled by Him.” (Colossians 2: 9 – 10)

This is the mystery — Christ in you, the hope of glory.

“The Royal Law Of Liberty” (1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 5, ESV) by Carley Evans

Love does not insist on its own way, but is kind and patient. Love has no envy, jealousy, arrogance. Love is never rude. Love is humble, giving, considerate.

Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5: 7) “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5: 9)

James writes, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scriptures, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” (James 2: 8 – 10)

We are accountable for all of the law for we each fail at one point or another. God is merciful. He forgives us our trespasses as we forgive others.

“So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2: 12 – 13)

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13: 13)

“Access By Faith Into This Grace” (Psalm 86: 5, ESV) by Carley Evans

David sings, “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to You do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.” (Psalm 86: 3 – 4)

“Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace.” (Psalm 86: 6)

“For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You.”

David relies on the grace of God. David trusts in God’s abounding and steadfast love available to “all who call upon [Him].” David knows God is “good and forgiving.”

Paul writes, “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we obtain access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5: 1 – 2) “For by grace you are saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2: 8)

Peter exhorts, “Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1: 13)

Paul and Peter, along with David know and proclaim that God’s grace is sufficient. Our hope rests on God’s gift which is His “steadfast love” and His “good and forgiving” nature. Let us rejoice. I say it again: Rejoice and be grateful.

“A Living Hope” (1 Peter 1: 13, ESV) by Carley Evans

“Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” writes Peter.

The author of 1 John writes, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.” (1 John 3: 2 – 3)

Peter exhorts us to “prepare [our] minds for action.” He reminds us that at one time we were “not a people, but now [we] are God’s people; once [we] had not received mercy, but now [we] have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2: 10) Given these facts, we are to change our minds and “abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against [our] souls.” (1 Peter 2: 11) We are to purify ourselves as Jesus is pure. The author of Hebrews offers encouragement, writing: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promises is faithful.” (Hebrews 10: 23)

God “causes us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1: 3) Therefore, says Peter: “Live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4: 2)

“Set your hope fully on the grace” revealed in Jesus Christ.

“A Walk Worthy Of The Lord” (Colossians 1: 9, ESV) by Carley Evans

Paul and Timothy tell the saints at Colossae, “We heard of your faith in Christ Jesus.” They also tell them they are aware “of the love that [they] have for all the saints;” (Colossians 1: 4) then promise to pray continually “that [they] may be filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” (Colossians 1: 9)

The faith of the Colossians comes “through the Word of truth, the gospel;” and gives a “hope laid up for [them] in heaven.” (Colossians 1: 5) From understanding God’s grace, the Colossians are able to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.” (Colossians 1: 10)

Faith comes through hearing of the Word of God, the gospel. Understanding of the Word is granted by God’s grace. The Holy Spirit fills us with the knowledge of God’s will, giving us “spiritual wisdom.” All this results in a “walk…worthy of the Lord.” With a walk worthy of God, love for the saints and hope in heaven become daily companions.

Paul and Timothy pray, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might.” (Colossians 1: 11)

“Lay Hold Of God’s Power” (Ephesians 1: 18, ESV) by Carley Evans

Paul prays in thanksgiving for his Ephesian brothers and sisters in Christ. He has heard of their faith in Jesus and of their love for one another. He wants each to know that he prays constantly that “the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1: 17 – 18)Paul wants us to know, to experience the hope, the richness of our calling, of our inheritance. He wants us enlightened, wise, and knowledgeable of Christ. He prays we will know that God reveals Himself fully to us. Paul prays we will know we are a family, that our inheritance is “in the saints.”

Paul prays we will know “the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe.” (Ephesians 1: 19)

Paul knows that if we lay hold of God’s power, if we believe God is on our side, if we trust our knowledge of Him and the revelation and wisdom He gives us; then we will be able to stand until that day. We will stand in His presence and we will glory in His goodness, mercy, love toward us. We will praise and thank Him, knowing God “made us alive together with Christ — by grace [we] have been saved — and raised us up with Him and seated us in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2: 5 – 6)

“From Babylon” (Jeremiah 29: 11, ESV) by Carley Evans

We are in exile, far from the Lord. We are in a place to which He sent us — a place called Babylon. When an appointed time is passed, He brings us out of that place. Then, we call upon Him. We come and pray to Him. We seek Him with our whole hearts and we find Him. Our fortunes are restored.

God explains, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jesus speaks of the man with two sons. The younger son wants his inheritance now. The man gives his sons what should come to them in the future. The younger leaves for a faraway country “where he squanders his property in reckless living.” (Luke 15: 13) He becomes so desolate that he eats the corn husks left behind by the pigs. “When he comes to himself,” he realizes that even his father’s servants are in better shape than he. So, he returns home. (Luke 15: 17)

From a distance, his father sees him. He “feels compassion, and runs and embraces him.” (Luke 15: 20) He throws a huge celebration for the recovery of his youngest son.

The older son, who remains in the field, hears the music and the laughter. He comes close enough to discover that his younger brother has returned, and that their father has “killed the fattened calf.” (Luke 15: 27) He is livid; his anger so intense he refuses to enter the house. He pouts that he has not received recognition for staying put, for serving his father diligently.

His father entreats, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” (Luke 15: 31 – 32)

God is always waiting for exiles to turn from Babylon. His plans are for our good; He is prepared to kill the fattened calf, turn up the music, celebrate our return from the deadness of the world. God gives us a future and a hope, whether we are always by His side or whether we run away then turn to seek Him.

“A Living Hope” (1 Peter 1: 3 – 5, ESV) by Carley Evans

“He has caused us to be born again to a living hope.” We are born again, just as Jesus says to Nicodemus, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ ” (John 3: 7)

“You, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation.” Our salvation is guarded by God Himself, via the power of His Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

“Therefore…set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1: 13) Our hope is in the grace and mercy of our God and Father.

Our inheritance is presently “kept in heaven for [us].” This inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.” (1 Peter 1: 4) Our salvation is “ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1: 5) Our salvation is a future event. Presently, we are “obtaining the outcome of [our] faith, the salvation of [our] souls.” (1 Peter 1: 9) Yes, we are saved now; but our ultimate salvation is to be had in the future, outside of this limited time and space, in eternity.

In the meantime, “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, grown inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8: 23 – 25) Our hope is sometimes painful as we long for the other country, the better place, the close fellowship with God, the three in One.

And, “though you have not seen [Jesus Christ], you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.” (1 Peter 1: 8)

“To Be Perfect” (Romans 5: 3 – 4, ESV) by Carley Evans

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

“That which does not kill us makes us strong,” says one of the characters in the play, STEEL MAGNOLIAS. The character says this to a mother who has lost her young daughter. This mother says, “No. No. I’m not ready for this. I was supposed to go first. I was supposed to go first.”

So often, we are not ready for the tragedies which befall us. They blind-side us. Somehow, we forget that life is hard, and that everyone suffers. We seem surprised when bad things happen, and ask “why?” We forget that the real question is “why not?”

James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1: 2 – 4)

To be perfect, complete and lacking nothing, Jesus suffered. “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5: 7 – 10)

As Jesus suffered, so shall we. Counting our sufferings as joys is the most difficult task we face. Look back on your life; see if it isn’t true — true that after a particularly difficult time, you found a new strength, a new happiness, a new peacefulness you did not fully know or appreciate before your time of testing, of trial, of suffering.

“Endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5: 4 – 5)