“The City Of The Living God” ( Hebrews 12: 28, NIV ) by Carley Evans


The author of Hebrews reminds us that we “have not come to a mountain that can be touched with fire.” We have not come “to darkness, gloom and storm.” (Hebrews 12:18) We are not come into “a kingdom that [can] be shaken.” (Hebrews 12:28) Rather, we “have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. [We] have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. [We] have come to God, the judge of all men, to spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:22-24)

On this earth,”we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14) Like Abraham, we are “stranger[s] in a foreign country…looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:8,10)

We are “still living by faith…[having] not received the things promised; [we] only see them and welcome them from a distance. And [we] admit that [we] are aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own… [We] are longing for a better country — a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called [our] God, for He has prepared a city for [us.]” (Hebrews 11:13-16)

“It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace.” (Hebrews 13:9)

“Aspire To The Realm Above” ( Colossians 3: 1, NEB ) by Carley Evans


Paul calls us to “aspire to the realm above.” John the Baptist says, “The kingdom of Heaven is upon you.” (Matthew 3: 2) Jesus says, “Is there a man of you who by anxious thought can add a foot to his height?” (Matthew 6: 27) Jesus points to the impossibility of anxiety changing our circumstances. He tells us our worries accomplish nothing of value, asking: “And why be anxious?” (Matthew 6: 27)

 

As we set our minds on things above, we are called to leave bitterness behind. Paul writes, “Have done with spite and passion, all angry shouting and cursing, and bad feeling of every kind.” (Ephesians 4: 31) We are instead to “be made new in mind and spirit, and put on the new nature of God’s creating.” (Ephesians 4: 23-24) We are not to lie but “speak the truth to each other.” (Ephesians 4:25) Whatever comes from our mouths should be “only what is good and helpful to the occasion, so that it brings a blessing to those who hear it.” (Ephesians 4: 29-30)

 

Jesus tells us, “‘You have learned that they were told, ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you this: Do not set yourself against the man who wrongs you. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn and offer him your left. If a man wants to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. If a man in authority makes you go one mile, go with him two.’ ” (Matthew 5:38-42) Jesus commands us not to judge; rather we are to forgive. “For if you forgive others the wrongs they have done, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, then the wrongs you have done will not be forgiven by your Father.” (Matthew 6: 14-15)

 

As we “aspire to the realm above,” the things of the world become less compelling. The “bad feeling of every kind” is — hopefully — lessened.

 

Jesus asks us, “Why are you such cowards?” He exclaims, “How little faith you have!” (Matthew 8: 26-27) Yet, He calls us friends, saying, “Follow Me.” (Matthew 8: 22)

 

As Jesus’ friends, we need only pray: “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17: 5) Help us, Lord, to “aspire to the realm above.”

“The Least Is Greater” (Mark 9: 35, ESV) by Carley Evans


Jesus says that as we receive, accept, help, love a child in His Name, we simultaneously receive, accept, help and love Him. What we do for the least in God’s world we do for Him.

As we become “last of all and servant of all,” we come to reflect Jesus. Reflecting Jesus to others makes us first in the world.

Jesus tells His disciples that they have power over spirits, but He tells them not to rejoice in this power, but to be glad and grateful that their “names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10: 16)

He reminds them that though John the baptist is the greatest man ever born of woman, the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater.

Satan fell from heaven, and in the eyes of the world is the greatest ‘being’ here, ruling it firmly. Yet, the least in the kingdom of God is greater.

“Heaven On Earth” (Luke 20: 38, ESV) by Carley Evans


Jesus tells us, “Now He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to Him.”

Paul writes, “Do you not know that all of us who are baptized into Christ Jesus are baptized into His death? We are buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ is raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too may walk in the newness of life. For if we are united with Him in a death like His, we are certainly united with Him in a resurrection like His.” (Romans 6: 3 – 5)

So, we live to God.

Jesus says, “I Am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live.” (John 11: 25)

He also declares many times, “The kingdom of Heaven has come near to you.” (Luke 10: 9, 11)

If Jesus is the resurrection and the life, then He is also the kingdom of Heaven. He walks among us, the full embodiment of Heaven on earth.

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if your hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put Me to the test and saw My works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known My ways.’ As I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ” (Hebrews 3: 7 – 11)

Jesus is our High Priest, so we are able “to hold fast our confession” of faith. He is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses.” We are as such able to approach God “with confidence,” knowing that He Himself provides us with mercy and “grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4: 14 – 16, selected)

Jesus is our life. He is the kingdom of Heaven. We walk in this kingdom here on the earth with softened hearts, leaning on Him for mercy and grace and help in time of need. Let us lean on the Lord.

“The Prophet Of The Most High” (Luke 1: 76 – 77, ESV) by Carley Evans


Zechariah sings first to God and then to his unborn son. He sings a song first of praise, then of delight. He sings of joy that his own child will be “called the prophet of the Most High,” and predicts his son “will go before the Lord to prepare His ways.”

John will preach “knowledge of salvation.” He will tell of  “the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1: 78 – 79)

John when he has grown into a man sends two messengers to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” Jesus, after healing many, answers: “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.” (Luke 7: 20, 22 – 23)

Before they leave, Jesus asks John’s messengers, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.’ I tell you among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7: 24 – 28)