“Necessary for Your Sake” ( Philippians 1:21-26 LEB ) by Carley Evans


Paul writes to the church at Philippi, telling them in no uncertain terms, “I’ve got it rough!” Then he says his rough times benefit the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, Paul finds himself torn between two strong desires – the better desire is to depart this life and go to Christ; the lesser is to remain behind; “to stay on in the flesh.” Unfortunately for Paul, his remaining alive “is more necessary for” the sake of the church.

That Paul is more desirous of death is obvious. He writes to the Philippians:

For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if it is to live in the flesh, this is fruitful work for me, and which I will prefer I do not know. But I am hard pressed between the two options, having the desire to depart and to be with Christ, for this is very much better. But to stay on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. And because I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that what you can be proud of may increase in Christ Jesus because of me through my return again to you.

Yet, Paul is obviously not suicidal. Once again, he puts others above himself. He is convinced that it is more necessary for him to remain alive, so he knows he will “continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.” And so, Paul can readily say, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” without any hint of self-pity or drudgery. He does not threaten the church; he only reminds them that he remains alive for their sakes.

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“How Few There Are” ( Matthew 7:13-14 KNOX ) by Carley Evans


Straight And Narrow Road
(Photo credit: Bradley.Johnson.)

Jesus warns “few there are that find it.” The ‘it’ He mentions is “life.” Apparently, according to Jesus, the many find death easily; without trying. Why is that? Perhaps because death is our natural state; we are, indeed, in a state of perpetual dying. Jesus says,

Make your way in by the narrow gate. It is a broad gate and a wide road that leads on to perdition, and those who go in that way are many indeed; but how small is the gate, how narrow the road that leads on to life, and how few there are that find it!

Jesus says the way “that leads on to life” is difficult to find. The gate is small; the road is narrow. He implies this way is hidden. What makes the way to life so hard to locate? What makes the gate small? Why is the road narrow?

Perdition – hell, the underworld, death, punishment – is a broad and straight path. “And those who go in that way are many indeed,” says Jesus. The way to hell is an easy road to find because we start out on it, right from birth. We walk along with others, vaguely or painfully aware of its ultimate destination – our deaths. Some of us know that death is eternal; others do not. The gate to the other path is not obvious, according to Jesus. Rather, that path is small, narrow, hidden.

Who opens the eyes?

I think Paul tells us quite clearly that God the Holy Spirit enables the few to find the way to life. Why those few? An impossible question with an improbable answer – God selects. He is under no obligation to show mercy, but He does.

Such a hard Word. Paul responds with:

14 What does this mean? That God acts unjustly? That is not to be thought of.15 I will shew pity, he tells Moses, on those whom I pity; I will shew mercy where I am merciful;16 the effect comes, then, from God’s mercy, not from man’s will, or man’s alacrity. 17 Pharao, too, is told in scripture, This is the very reason why I have made thee what thou art, so as to give proof, in thee, of my power, and to let my name be known all over the earth.18 Thus he shews mercy where it is his will, and where it is his will he hardens men’s hearts.19 Hereupon thou wilt ask, If that is so, how can he find fault with us, since there is no resisting his will? 20 Nay, but who art thou, friend, to bandy words with God? Is the pot to ask the potter, Why hast thou fashioned me thus? 21 Is not the potter free to do what he will with the clay, using the same lump to make two objects, one for noble and one for ignoble use? 22 It may be that God has borne, long and patiently, with those who are the objects of his vengeance, fit only for destruction, meaning to give proof of that vengeance, and display his power at last;23 meaning also to display, in those who are the objects of his mercy, how rich is the glory he bestows, that glory for which he has destined them.

24 We are the objects of his mercy; we, whom he has called, Jews and Gentiles alike. [Romans 9: 14-24, KNOX]

“Cleansed From The Past” (2 Peter 1: 4, HCSB) by Carley Evans


God’s “divine power” gives us everything, writes Peter, that we need in order to have life and holiness. God gives us everything through knowledge of Him — that is, through our relationship with Him–and calls us to Himself “by His own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1: 3) In turn His glory and goodness allow us to “share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.”

God calls us. He supplies us with His own divine power and allows us to share in His divine nature. Therefore, says Peter, we should “make every effort to confirm [our] calling and election” (2 Peter 1: 10) We should “make every effort to supplement [our] faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1: 7)

As we confirm our election by living these qualities, we find that we remember that we are “cleansed from [our] past sins” and that we are not “useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1: 9, 8)

Don’t be “blind and shortsighted.” (2 Peter 1: 9)

Remember that Jesus Christ dies for you, that He lives forever to intercede for you, that He calls you with His own goodness and glory, provides you His divine power and grants you a portion of His glory and nature.

“Refuge In A Desert” (Psalm 63: 1, ESV) by Carley Evans


Life here on earth is often like life in the desert — a life without water, without shelter, without the company of friends. David sings to God, “My soul thirsts for You, my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

Despite this desert surrounding him, David beholds God’s power and glory. He sings, “Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You.” (Psalm 63: 3)

He claims that he will be satisfied as “with fat and rich food.” (Psalm 63: 5) His satisfaction comes as he “meditates on [God] in the watches of the night” or “looks upon [God] in the sanctuary.” (Psalm 63: 6, 2)

David is able to stand in the desert because God is his help, and “in the shadow of [His] wings, [he] sings for joy.” (Psalm 63: 7)

God’s right hand grasps David, holding him steady in the heat, weariness, and dryness of life.

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62: 5 – 8)