How Many Times? (2 Peter 3:18, ESV) by Carley Evans

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” 2 Peter 3:18, ESV.

In this single verse, the apostle Peter tells us everything we need to know about the good news of Jesus Christ.

Jesus suffered only once.

He suffered and died for sinners, for persons who did not and do not deserve His sacrifice.

Jesus suffered and died to bring sinners to God ( not God to sinners, by the way ).

And how did Jesus accomplish this miracle?

Jesus brought sinners to God by “being put to death” — in other words, by execution which implies a courtroom, a judge and a sentence of death for guilt. Whose guilt? Not His own for He was and is without sin. The guilt that Jesus was sentenced to death for is mine and yours.

So stop pointing your finger at others.

We all alike condemned Jesus to the Cross.

And stop trying to crucify others.

Jesus needed to die only once.

Instead, rejoice! I say it again, Rejoice!

“My Portion is God” ( Psalm 73:25-26 WYC ) by Carley Evans

For why what is to me in heaven; and what would I of thee on earth? (For what is there for me in heaven, but thee? and what else do I desire here on earth, but thee?) My flesh and mine heart failed; God of mine heart, and my part is God [into] without end. (Though my flesh and my heart fail; but God is my strength, and my portion forever.)

David could be the weary and suffering Job in this passage. Here David speaks perhaps after the shame of murdering Uriah so as to have Bathsheba; perhaps after the death of his son. At any rate, David sings that even if his flesh and heart fail, God is his strength and his portion forever. David rhetorically asks, What else in heaven and earth do I desire? And his answer is, Nothing but You, God.

This truth is what Job discovers in his ordeal. At the end of his rope, so to speak, Job realizes that only God matters, that everything else is a pale shadow compared to Him. Job’s devotion to God does not, however, diminish his love of others or his view of himself. Rather, as Job falls in humility before God, God lifts him up and places him above where he was in the first place.

What do we desire?

“God Is Everywhere” ( Psalms 138:8, KNOX ) by Carley Evans

Satan before the Lord
Satan before the Lord (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I should climb up to heaven, thou art there; if I sink down to the world beneath, thou art present still. ( Psalms 138:8, KNOX )

A puzzle here in David’s words and in the oral rendition of the story of Job – God is everywhere! We imagine God is incapable of being in the presence of evil, but that is obviously not so. Yes, He turns from His Son at the Cross when all the sins of the world attach themselves to Jesus; but God is found even if we climb to the heavens or descend to the realms of death and hell. That the Lord comes into the presence of the Enemy, Satan is evident in the beginning moments of the story of Job.

One day, when the heavenly powers stood waiting upon the Lord’s presence, and among them, man’s Enemy, the Lord asked him, where he had been? Roaming about the earth, said he, to and fro about the earth.Why then, the Lord said, thou hast seen a servant of mine called Job. Here is a true man, an honest man, none like him on earth; ever he fears his God, and keeps far from wrong-doing. Job fears his God, the Enemy answered, and loses nothing by it. 10 Sheltered his life by thy protection, sheltered his home, his property; thy blessing on all he undertakes; worldly goods that still go on increasing; he loses nothing. 11 One little touch of thy hand, assailing all that wealth of his! Then see how he will turn and blaspheme thee. 12 Be it so, the Lord answered; with all his possessions do what thou wilt, so thou leave himself unharmed. And with that, the Enemy left the Lord’s presence, and withdrew. ( Job 1: 6-12, KNOX )

God’s ability and willingness to be in the presence of the Enemy is nearly as difficult to understand and accept as His ability and willingness to suffer and die. God is engaged with death and evil. To think He is not is to misunderstand Him. God does not create death and evil; but He allows both. In so many ways, He uses both. Why?

Some would say, “To manifest His Power.”

“In Everything?” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

Sculpture - head of Jesus Christ
Sculpture – head of Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

God tells us to “give thanks in everything.” Sometimes this seems impossible! But note : God doesn’t say give thanks for everything; instead He commands us to be grateful in everything! You may not rejoice that you are unemployed or unhealthy, but you can give thanks while you are without a job or in poor health. Your attitude makes the difference between defeat and victory in Christ!

The main idea is that God wills you to rejoice always in Christ, who is your ultimate circumstance! As you live in Him, gratitude naturally flows from your heart. Be victorious because He is your victory!

“God Proves Me As I Pass Through Fire” ( Job 23:10-11, WYC ) by Carley Evans

I don’t think Job says it much differently than “God proves me as I pass through fire” as I indicate via the title of this little note. Job must feel as if the fires of hell are descending upon him as his children, his servants, his animals die, and as his own body is attacked. Yet, he denies sin. He cries out:

10 But [God] knoweth my way, and he shall prove me as gold (and he shall assay me like gold), that passeth through the fire.

11 My foot followed his steps; I kept (to) his way, and I bowed not away from it.

Job claims to follow God’s steps, to keep to His way, and to not stray from the truth. His friends protest, saying that can’t possibly be true; but God scolds them.

Job continues to maintain his innocence until God confronts with this: “Who are you to question Me?” God says to Job, “Brace yourself like a man; I question you, and you will answer Me.” (Job 38:3, NIV)

“Because They Suffer” ( Luke 13: 2, ESV ) by Carley Evans

Jesus warns that those who suffer are not worse sinners than others. He uses the example of eighteen who are killed when the tower in Siloam falls on them. He says these are not “worse offenders than all the others who live in Jerusalem.” (Luke 13:4) Then Jesus twice tells us that “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3,5)

Sin is sin, says Jesus. We all alike are sheep gone astray, and unless we repent and rely upon the sacrifice of Jesus, we die in our sin.

A woman is caught in adultery, and the Pharisees bring her to Jesus for judgment. The Pharisees challenge the Lord to follow the Law of Moses, which calls for the woman to be stoned to death. They rhetorically ask,”So what do You say?” (John 8:5) Jesus writes in the dirt. When He stands, He says to the Pharisees, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7) He writes in the dirt again. One by one, the Pharisees walk away, “beginning with the older ones” until Jesus and the woman are alone. (John 8:9) Jesus stands up, looks at the woman and asks her where her accusers have gone. He wants to know if anyone is left to accuse her. And she says, “No one, Lord.” (John 8:11)

Jesus tells her, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11)

Repent, or perish; sin is sin; all alike are gone astray. And, Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you.” I can hear Him say, “Why would I condemn you? I came here to earth to save you, not to judge you. My blood covers your sin. You suffer, but not any more than anyone else. Come; turn and follow Me.”

“Proclaim God’s Righteousness, His Alone” ( Psalm 71: 20, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

“God, who is like You? You cause me to experience many troubles and misfortunes, but You revive me again. You bring me up again, even from the depths of the earth. You increase my honor and comfort me once again.” (Psalm 71:19-21)

I “endure suffering as discipline. God is dealing with [me] as [a] son. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if [I am] without discipline — which all receive — then [I am} an illegitimate child and not a son.” (Hebrews 12:7-8)

But,”You redeem me.” (Psalm 71:23) Therefore, “my mouth tells about Your righteousness and Your salvation all day long, though I cannot sum them up. I come because of the mighty acts of the Lord God; I proclaim Your righteousness, Yours alone.” (Psalm 71:15-16)

I “strengthen [my] tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for [my] feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.” (Hebrews 12:12-13)

“My lips shout for joy when I sing praise to [God] because [He] redeems me.” (Psalm 71:23)

“On The Tablet Of The Heart” ( Jeremiah 17: 1, NEB ) by Carley Evans

“The sin of Judah is recorded with an iron tool, engraved on the tablet of their heart with a point of adamant and carved on the horns of their altars to bear witness against them.” The witness is: “the heart is the most deceitful of all things, desperately sick; who can fathom it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

“In enmity [God] strung His bow; He took His stand like an adversary and with His strong arm He slew all those who had been His delight; He poured His fury out like fire on the tent of the daughter of Zion. The Lord played the enemy’s part and overwhelmed Israel.” (Lamentations 2:4-5)

“Arise and cry aloud in the night; at the beginning of every watch pour out your heart like water in the Lord’s very presence. Lift up your hands to Him for the lives of your children. Look, Lord, and see: who is it that You have thus tormented?” (Lamentations 2:19-20)

Jesus says: “I Am the man who has known affliction, I have felt the rod of His wrath. It was I whom He led away and left to walk in darkness, where no light is. Against Me alone He has turned His hand, and so it is all day long.” (Lamentations 3:1-3) “I have become a laughing-stock to all nations; the target of their mocking songs all day.” (Lamentations 3:14) “Remember, O remember, and stoop down to Me. All this I take to heart and therefore I will wait patiently: the Lord’s true love is surely not spent, nor has His compassion failed; they are new every morning, so great is His constancy. The Lord, I say, is all that I have; therefore I will wait for Him patiently. The Lord is good to those who look for Him, to all who seek Him; it is good to wait in patience and sigh for deliverance by the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:20-26)

God’s people cry: “O Lord, turn us back to Yourself, and we will come back; renew our days as in times long past. For if You have utterly rejected us, then great indeed has been Your anger against us.” (Lamentations 5:21-22)

“Although they broke My covenant, I was patient with them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant I will make with Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will set My law within them and write it on their hearts; I will become their God and they shall become My people.” (Jeremiah 31:32-33) “For I will forgive their wrongdoing and remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

“For The Joy Set Before Him” ( Hebrews 12: 2, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

Jesus endures a cross and despises the shame associated with death on a tree “for the joy that lays before Him.” What is that joy set before Him? Yes, the joy is retaking His place “at the right hand of God’s throne.” But the other joy — the crucial joy — is becoming “the source and perfecter of our faith.” Jesus “endures such hostility from sinners against Himself” in order to save us from sin and from the wage of sin, that is — death. (Hebrews 12:3)

Because Jesus endures such pain and hostility in order to experience the joy of saving His people, we must “keep our eyes on Jesus” and “run with endurance the race that lies before us.” (Hebrews 12:2,1) As He keeps the joy in sight while He suffers on a cross, so we must keep the joy of being in Him in sight as we endure the troubles associated with life on earth. “In struggling against sin, [we] have not yet resisted to the point of shedding [our] blood” — that is true of many, if not most of us. (Hebrews 12:4)

“Just one thing: [we ought to] live [our] lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel, not being frightened in any way… For it has been given to [us] on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him.” (Philippians 1:27, 28, 29)

He is the source of our faith; and He perfects it. Amen.

“In God’s Hand” ( Job 12: 10, NEB ) by Carley Evans

Job argues, “In God’s hand are the souls of all that live, the spirits of all human kind. Wisdom and might are His, with Him are firmness and understanding. If He pulls down, there is no rebuilding; if He imprisons, there is no release.” (Job 12:10-14) “Deceived and deceiver are His to use.” (Job 12:16) “Will you quibble with Him as you quibble with a man?” (Job 13:9)


Job warns his friends that God “is not a man as I am, that I can answer Him or that we can confront one another in court. If only there were one to arbitrate between us and impose his authority on us both, so that God might take His rod from my back, and terror of Him might not come on me suddenly. I would then speak without fear of Him; for I know I am not what I am thought to be.” (Job 9:32-35)


Job laments that “man born of woman is short-lived and full of disquiet. He blossoms like a flower and then he withers; he slips away like a shadow and does not stay; he is like a wine-skin that perishes or a garment that moths have eaten.” (Job 14:1-2)


Job pleads, “I tell you, God Himself has put me in the wrong, He has drawn the net round me. He has walled in my path so that I cannot break away, and He has hedged in the road before me.” (Job 19:6,8) “Pity me, pity me, you that are my friends; for the hand of God has touched me. Why do you pursue me as God pursues me? Have you not had your teeth in me long enough?” (Job 19:21-22)


That Job is in deep despair is evident; he knows he is essentially innocent of wrongdoing and yet has lost all  for no good reason he can fathom. He only knows God has set him as His target. He is weary of the disloyalty of his friends; and longs not to have been born. Nevertheless, Job hopes for “one to arbitrate between” himself and God; someone who can “impose His authority on us both, so that God might take His rod from my back.”


Job says, God “decides, and who can turn Him from His purpose? He does what He determines, that He carries out; His mind is full of plans like these. Therefore I am fearful of meeting Him; when I think about Him, I am afraid; it is God who makes me faint-hearted and the Almighty who fills me with fear.” (Job 23:13-16)


Yet, Job maintains his innocence. He says to his friends,”God forbid that I should allow you to be right; till death I will not abandon my claim to innocence. I will maintain the rightness of my cause, I will never give up; so long as I live, I will not change.” (Job 27:5-6)


Then, surprisingly, God Himself speaks to Job. God asks, “Is it for a man who disputes with the Almighty to be stubborn? Should he that argues with God answer back? (Job 40:2) “Dare you deny that I Am just or put Me in the wrong that you may be right?” (Job 40:8)


Job finally understands. He answers God, “I know that Thou canst do all things and that no purpose is beyond Thee. But I spoke of great things which I do not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. I knew of Thee then only by report, but now I see Thee with my own eyes. Therefore I melt away; I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:2-6)