“Wondering” by Carley Evans


Wondering why some Christians are “open-minded” and others are not. Wondering how it is some Christians see Christ as kind and gentle, loving and forgiving while others see Him as mean and angry, hateful of sin and judgmental? How can people who claim to believe in the same God come out so differently after reading the same Bible and praying to the same Lord?
How can some believe God hates sinners while others believe God loves sinners so much He actually DIED for them? How can some believe God wants Christians to stand up against sin to the point of harming other human beings who happen to sin while others believe they too sin and are just as deserving of the same type of “revenge” against sin?
Why do some Christians feel capable of judging other human beings while others feel entirely unworthy of the task?
Oh Lord, help us to know the Truth so it and You may set us Free. Amen.

“Because You Were Filled” ( John 6:28-30, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


I have a few questions:

  1. Who seeks God?
  2. For those who seek Him, what is required of us? What makes us acceptable to God?
  3. When we seek Him, is it miracles and signs we desire? 

After Jesus feeds the 5,000 or perhaps it’s the time He feeds the 4,000, those who follow after Him ask similar questions:

28 “What can we do to perform the works of God?” they ask.

29 Jesus replies, “This is the work of God—that you believe in the One He has sent.”

30 “What sign then are You going to do so we may see and believe You?” they ask. “What are You going to perform?

Jesus answers:

 “I assure you: You are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.  Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him.” (John 6: 26-27)

“Since We Have These Promises” ( 2 Corinthians 7: 1, MOUNCE ) by Carley Evans


The promises Paul mentions in his letter to the church at Corinth are twofold: that God is our Father and that we are his sons and daughters, fully adopted into His family. Paul then proceeds to tell us that these promises are to cause us to “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit” in a mighty effort to “perfect” our “holiness.”

As a child fears (respects) his or her father and mother, so we are to fear (respect) our God.

Since (echō) then (oun) we have (echō) these (houtos · ho) promises (epangelia,) dear friends (agapētos,) let us cleanse (katharizō) ourselves (heautou) from (apo) every (pas) defilement (molysmos) of flesh (sarx) and (kai) spirit (pneuma,) perfecting (epiteleō) holiness (hagiōsynē) in (en) the fear (phobos) of God (theos.)

“His Truth” ( Psalm 95: 10-13, DRA ) by Carley Evans


10 Say ye among the Gentiles, the Lord hath reigned. For he hath corrected the world, which shall not be moved: he will judge the people with justice.

11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, let the sea be moved, and the fulness thereof:

12 the fields and all things that are in them shall be joyful. Then shall all the trees of the woods rejoice

13 before the face of the Lord, because he cometh: because he cometh to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with justice, and the people with his truth.

An appropriate view of God is to recognize Him as Parent. Jesus is smart to introduce God, His Father as our Father when He prays, “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.” David calls God “King” and “Judge.” And yes, God is our King and our Judge. But above these roles, He is our Parent. He corrects us like the perfect parent corrects – with justice and love.

And so, the heavens rejoice; and the earth is glad. Everything on the earth is joyful “because He comes; because He comes to judge the earth…with justice, and the people with HIS TRUTH.”

 

“Seek No Revenge” ( Leviticus 19:18, KNOX ) by Carley Evans


Vincent van Gogh, 1890. Kröller-Müller Museum....
Vincent van Gogh, 1890. Kröller-Müller Museum. The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix).

Do not seek revenge, or bear a grudge for wrong done to thee by thy fellow-citizens; thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; thy Lord is his.

God is clearly not interested in our grudges or in our desires for revenge against those who wrong us. Instead, God longs for us to love one another in the same way we love ourselves. He wants us to recognize that our fellow-citizens belong to Him, too. They are His just as we are. God is like the parent who says, “Don’t spank my kid for me, please. I’m perfectly capable of disciplining my own child –” except in our case, we are also a child of the same parent.

If you live in a glass house, you ought not to throw stones at your neighbor even if his house is also made of glass.

“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]

“Echo Already” ( Habacuc 3:19 KNOX ) by Carley Evans


English: Red deer

“The Lord, the ruler of all, is my stronghold; he will bring me safely on my way, safe as the hind whose feet echo already on the hills. (For the chief singer, to the harp’s music.)”

The picture here is of a hind – a female red deer – safely on a hillside, her feet sending echoes into the valley below. She is perfectly safe where she is. She is in her element, her stronghold; she has been safely brought to where she belongs. She will stay.

“To Drain the Cup” ( Hebrews 9:28 KNOX ) by Carley Evans


Image

The author of Hebrews emphasizes the offer of Christ is “once for all” and is designed by God the Father “to drain the cup of a world’s sins.” Jesus comes the first time to deal with sin; the second time He comes has nothing whatever to do with sin. Instead He brings salvation “to those who await His coming.”

For some reason, I think of a dishwasher thoroughly cleaning a cup in one wash. I unloaded dishes last night. I’m not sure the reason, but the dishes were sparkling and ultra-clean. Jesus ultra-cleans the cup on His first visit to earth; at His second, He finds the cup thoroughly washed, waiting patiently ( or impatiently ) and ready for use.

and Christ was offered once for all, to drain the cup of a world’s sins; when we see him again, sin will play its part no longer, he will be bringing salvation to those who await his coming. 

“A Tinkling Cymbal” ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 GNV ) by Carley Evans


Hi-hat cymbals

Love is the greater gift, greater and of considerably more value than speaking in tongues or faith that moves mountains or prophecy that warns of disaster or knowledge that reveals “all secrets and all knowledge.” Without love, Paul claims we are the same as “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” Our actions, though they be good deeds – even deeds of the martyr, are of no profit to us if we have no love. He warns:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and Angels, and have not love, I am as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I had the gift of prophecy, and knew all secrets and all knowledge, yea, if I had all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and had not love, I were nothing. And though I feed the poor with all my goods, and though I give my body, that I be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

I can’t help but think many of us walk about tinkling and sounding as we perform our ‘good deeds’. I include myself in this group – for love does not come naturally to me. I know this is true because I find myself angry at people more than I should be if I love them. Most of my anger against people springs from my heart when I am in my vehicle, and is directed at total strangers.

I can almost hear the tinkling cymbal as it pings down the road. If only I had love, I’d be somebody.

“Mercy in the Morning” ( Psalm 59:16 GNV ) by Carley Evans


God is a refuge in the day of trouble – of this there is no doubt.

His mercy comes in the morning. Ever notice? You go to sleep at night, perhaps with a weight on your chest and in the morning you may be briefly aware of peace, of an absence of worry and heaviness. God’s mercy rests on you instead. He’s given you a night of deep rest, of dreams you may or may not remember. He’s clothed you in His mercy, and for a moment, you may notice. Then you’re up, taking a shower, dressing in something presentable or classy or flashy to go out and about. The weight on your chest returns, sometimes with vengeance, sometimes with subtlety. But God’s mercy seems to drift off and you have no way of getting it back.

Sing to the Lord a new song, a song of praise, of song of recognition that He is merciful and full of grace. He is your stronghold, your mighty fortress, your rock and your redeemer. You live and breathe and walk about in His mercy. Without Him, you are nothing. Even Paul says that the Christian is to be pitied above all if our merciful God does not exist.

Sing to the Lord a new song.

But I will sing of thy power, and will praise thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.