“Givers of Light” (Philippians 2: 14-16, WYC) by Carley Evans


And do ye all things without grumblings and doubtings; [Forsooth do ye all things without grutchings and doubtings;] that ye be without plaint, and simple as the sons of God, without reproof, in the middle of a depraved nation [in the middle of a shrewd nation] and a wayward; among which ye shine as givers of light in the world [among whom ye shine as givers of light in the world;]. And hold ye together the word of life to my glory in the day of Christ; for I have not run in vain, neither I have travailed in vain. [holding together the word of life to my glory in the day of Christ; for I have not run in vain, neither in vain travailed.]Philippians 2:14-16WYC

What are the enemies of a simple, reproof-free Christian life? Grumblings (or grutchings) and doubtings, if you read Paul. I imagine Paul bemoans the critical soul who wrings his hands and shakes his head at the world as it rushes by in its waywardness and depravity. I see Paul weeping over the Ebenezer Scrooges of the Christian world who bah-humbug their way through the Christian life. Paul does not wish to run his own race in vain. He desires the Christians he leads to “shine as givers of light in the world.” He wishes Christians to “hold…together the Word of Life” to his “glory in the day of Christ.”

Paul doesn’t say, “Do some things without grumblings and doubtings.” Rather he says to do all things with joy and faith which come of knowing the Lord. Then, and only then, will we shine as givers of light to the world.

“Winning” ( Philippians 1: 21, WYC ) by Carley Evans


“For [to] me to live is Christ, and to die is winning.”

Now most people know Paul isn’t saying, “I wanna die!” Rather, Paul is saying, “Life is Christ; death is winning.” If you examine Paul’s life, you can readily understand why living for Paul is “Christ.” Paul’s walk is filled with sufferings, thorns in the flesh, and hard hard work for the Lord. He writes frequently about “suffering” for Christ’s sake. No wonder Paul looks forward to dying for to him, death is the end of the struggle and the beginning of eternal glory.

Life is hard, but life is good. Death is harder, and eternal life is best. Why is eternal life best? Nope. Not because of gold streets or shiny baulbs. Eternal life is best because of being in God’s presence, face to face. Fully knowing Him as we are fully known. The end of tears, no fear, no pain.

“They [God’s people] were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—” (Hebrews 11: 27, NIV)

None of these sufferings matter in God’s presence. Paul likens death to winning a race, crossing the finish line, celebrating the victory, accepting the prize. That’s why he writes, “To die is winning.”

“Life Is Christ” (Philippians 1: 21, NEB) by Carley Evans


“For to me life is Christ, and death gain; but what if my living on in the body may serve some good purpose?” The purpose of which Paul speaks is to “stand by [us] all to help [us] forward and to add joy to [our] faith.” (Philippians 1: 25) Paul would rather die and be with Christ, which “is better by far.” (Philippians 1: 24)

Paul calls us to “look to each other’s interest and not merely to [our] own.” (Philippians 2: 4) It is in Paul’s best interest to exit life to be with Christ — for to Paul “death is gain.” Instead, he knows “there is greater need for [him] to stay on in the body.” (Philippians 1: 25) He puts our interests above his own. Paul says, “Let your bearing towards one another arise out of your life in Christ Jesus. For the divine nature is His from the first; yet He does not think to snatch equality with God, but makes Himself nothing, assuming the nature of a slave.” (Philippians 2: 5 – 8)

The author of Hebrews writes of men and women of faith who die “not yet in possession of the things promised.” Instead, they “see them far ahead and hail them, and confess themselves no more than strangers or passing travellers on earth. Those who use such language show plainly that they are looking for a country of their own. If their hearts are in the country they leave, they could find opportunity to return. Instead, we find them longing for a better country — I mean the heavenly one.” (Hebrews 11: 13 – 16) For them death is gain. For us, too, death is gain. But we remain in the body so as to serve one another, build up one another, love and care for one another.

“Life Is Christ, Death Gain” (Philippians 1: 21, NEB) by Carley Evans


“For to me life is Christ, and death gain.” By far the better place to be is with God face to face. We are strangers here on earth. Like Abraham, we look “forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11: 10, NIV) “[We] come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. [We] come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. [We] come to God, the judge of all men, to the 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, NIV) Here is our true home, the place we desire beyond measure. But Paul also writes that for him “life is Christ.” While in the body, Paul strives to serve the living God by serving his brothers and sisters in Christ and by reaching out to those who do not yet know Christ. Paul is “torn two ways,” writing: “what I should like is to depart and be with Christ; that is better by far; but for your sake there is greater need for me to stay on in the body.” (Philippians 1: 23 – 24, NEB) Paul asks us, “Were you not raised to life with Christ? Then aspire to the realm above, where Christ is.” (Philippians 3: 1 – 2, NEB)

An Even Yoke (Philippians 2: 12, HCSB) by Carley Evans


Paul commands you to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” (Philippians 2: 12 – 13)

God works in you because His Holy Spirit dwells within you as within a temple. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because your body is God’s dwelling place, how can you unite yourself with those who hate God? You can’t. For what you love, that person despises.

Paul says not to be yoked with unbelievers for it is an uneven bonding. “Don’t you know,” says Paul, “that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you are bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6: 19 – 20)

Seek someone within the body of Christ to join with you, knowing that God is your primary focus, that He strengthens your relationship and literally makes it holy.

Yoked with a believer, you know that both of you have God at work within “to desire and to work out His good purpose” for your lives. You both must continue to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” lest you fall away from one another, fall into lust for another, and dishonorably into unfaithfulness and adultery.

But thanks be to God, you are not one to fall away. You are the Lord’s and His power is at work within you. Rely upon Him; He takes you to the prize — a holy relationship with another Christian.

” ‘Yes’ To Us” (Romans 15: 13, HCSB) by Carley Evans


We hope, says Paul, “by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Without Him, we have no hope; we have no peace; we have no joy. God — the Holy Spirit — is the seal who is “a down payment in our hearts” guaranteeing our inheritance. (2 Corinthians 1: 22) “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is preached among you by [Paul] and Silvanus and Timothy does not become ‘Yes and No’; on the contrary, a final ‘Yes’ comes in Him. For every one of God’s promises is ‘Yes’ in Him.” (2 Corinthians 1: 19 – 20)

Therefore, “[we] stand by faith.” (2 Corinthians 2: 1) As we believe in Christ, we find our joy and peace in Him, in knowing that God says, “Yes’ to us rather than ‘No!” God the Father is able to say ‘Yes’ to us because His Son dies for us, washes us clean of our sin, and deposits in us His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes us holy, setting us apart for God the Father. He enables us to do the good works God prepares in advance for us. “For it is God who is working in [us], enabling [us] both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” (Philippians 2: 13)

“So then, my brothers [and sisters]..in this manner stand firm in the Lord, dear friends.” (Philippians 4: 1)

“You May Have Peace” (John 16: 33, ESV) by Carley Evans


Jesus says, “In Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

 

And Paul says, “God has called you to peace” when writing of the unbelieving spouse abandoning the marriage. (1 Corinthians 7: 15) The author of Hebrews tells us to “strive for peace with everyone.” (Hebrews 12: 14) Peter writes, “Let [us] seek peace and pursue it.” (1 Peter 3: 11)

Yet, Paul also promises, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4: 7) God’s peace is not our own, not a peace we strive for or fight — in some sort of human effort — to give to others. Rather this is a peace residing within us, shown to the world through us.

From whence comes this inner peace? From Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus tells us, “In Me you may have peace.” We already are fully aware that we have tribulation in the world. We know less fully that Jesus has overcome the world. Of this, we need reminding.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!’ ” (Luke 2: 13 – 14)

Remember! Jesus has overcome the world.

“Not To Be Served, But To Serve” (1 Peter 2: 15 – 16) by Carley Evans


“Put to silence the ignorance of foolish people,” writes Peter. And how is this accomplished? “By doing good,” responds Peter. He tells us to “live as people who are free.” At the same time, we are not to use our “freedom as a cover-up for evil.”

Our freedom is made perfect as we live “as servants of God.”

Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13: 16 – 17)

And He tells His disciples, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20: 26 – 28)

Jesus sets us His example. “He made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant.” (Philippians 2: 7)

Therefore, if the Son of God emptied Himself of His glory to the point of death on a cross; then we must empty ourselves, “know Him and the power of His resurrection, and share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.” (Philippians 3: 10)

“For freedom Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5: 1)

And “only faith working through love” “counts for anything.” (Galatians 5: 6)

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone.” (Galatians 6: 10)

“The World Is Passing Away” (1 John 2: 15 – 16, ESV) by Carley Evans


“The world is passing away along with its desires,” writes the author of 1 John.
The author of Hebrews writes of Christians of great faith who “acknowledge that they [are] strangers and exiles on earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland… As it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11: 13 – 14, 16)

Therefore, exhorts the author of 1 John, do not love the world. Why love the world which is passing away – why want the world and its desires?

“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith, Moses when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11: 23 – 26)

1 John’s author says, “For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions — is not from the Father but is from the world.”

Paul states, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish…that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3: 8, 11)

God has prepared a city for us, for those of us who have left behind the world to actively wait for our inheritance — even the salvation of our souls.