“Making God A Liar” ( I John 1: 8-10, KJV ) by Carley Evans

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

No, I’m not a sinner. Yes, I am a sinner. But… I’m a sinner saved by grace. Now wait a minute; I’m saved. I do not sin anymore. If I sin, that proves the Holy Spirit is not in charge of me. And if the Holy Spirit is not in charge, then I am not saved. In fact, I am lost. If I am lost, then I am a sinner.

And so on. Circular reasoning?

The author of 1 John writes that “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” He adds that “if we say that we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar.”

If we claim to be sinless, “[God’s] Word is not in us.”

What we are to do is:

1) Recognize that we are sinners.

2) Confess our sins which we fall into each and every day.

3) Trust that God forgives these sins and make us righteous by His sacrifice.

“Shame Not the Gospel” ( Romans 1:16 WYC ) by Carley Evans

I love – again – how different versions (i.e. translations) of the same Word give new insights into His Mind – here Paul says he “shames not” the good news. In other versions, he says he is “not ashamed” of the good news.

For I shame not the gospel, for it is the virtue of God into health to each man that believeth, to the Jew first, and to the Greek.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16NRSV)

In one translation, the gospel is described as the “virtue of God;” in many the good news is the “power of God.” His virtue is His Power, and therefore, our power! In one version, the result of the gospel is “health;” in many the outcome is our “salvation.” What a wondrous thing is the Word of God. Salvation is our health! 

Let us praise Him together as one, as we should.

“Against Darkness” ( Ephesians 6:12-13 DRA ) by Carley Evans

Our battle is not against other people. “Our wrestling” is rather “against the rulers of this darkness” and “against the spirits of wickedness.” We battle “principalities and power” that exist “in high places.”

For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.

And our position in this battle is defensive.

Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.

We are called to take up “the armour of God.” With this armor – the Word – we “resist in the evil day.” Our position in this battle is “to stand in all things perfect.”

And where is our perfection? In Christ. As we stand in Christ and in the Word of God, we overcome.

“Who Is The Innocent In Hands?” ( Psalm 24: 3-6, WYC ) by Carley Evans

“3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord; either who shall stand in the holy place of him? (Who shall go up on the hill of the Lord? who shall stand in his holy place?)

The innocent in hands, that is, in works, and in clean heart; which took not his soul in vain, neither swore in guile to his neighbour. (Those with innocent hands, or works, and with clean, or pure, hearts; they who took not their souls unto idols, nor swore falsely to their neighbours.)

He shall take blessing of the Lord; and mercy of God his health. (They shall receive a blessing from the Lord; mercy from the God of their salvation, or of their deliverance.)

This is the generation of men seeking him; of men seeking the face of God of Jacob. (This is the generation of people seeking him; of people seeking the face of the God of Jacob.)”

I know a little of the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church; I know the psalms are considered weapons against the forces of evil. As the liturgy progresses with each side of the church chanting the verse to the other side and the other side chanting the next verse to the first side – and so on, back and forth; the sounds rise and form a shield. I’ve personally felt the power of the Word of God in the audible liturgical services at Mepkin Abbey.

Participation in the liturgy, for me, is an honor I wish all Christians might experience firsthand.

In the Christian Book of Prayer this psalm – Psalm 24 – is one that stands out as special along with Psalm 95 and 100 and another I can’t recall right this minute.

God asks us, “Who shall come up here to Me? Who is able to stand in My Holy Place?”

And He answers His own question, “The innocent in hands, the clean in heart, the one who does not lie.”

I know Who that is! Do you?

“Fear Not! You Are Not Forgotten” ( Luke 12:6-7 KJV ) by Carley Evans

Group of sparrows.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

I gather sparrows are valuable in Jesus’ culture. Five of these little birds are worth 2 farthings. Even less valuable items gain God’s notice. The hairs on my head “are all numbered” says the Word of God. In other words, nothing escapes God’s notice. He sees, He knows everything about everything. Not only does He see and know, He also cares about everything. He cares about things which we human beings do not value or which we hold in low esteem.

Because God cares about “the little things,” we ought to rest assured He cares about the important things, i.e. about us. We “are of more value than many sparrows.” Since this truth ought to be obvious, why do we live in fear?

God’s Word tells us, “Fear not! You are not forgotten” by God.

“In Mildness” ( James 1:20-22, WYC ) by Carley Evans

My anger at injustice, at the evil [in myself and in others] isn’t going to result in the righteousness that God demands. Turning away from injustice and evil is, however, a necessary consequence of receiving [in humility] the Word of God, which is joined to me.

Listening to the Word is not enough, says James. We must be “doers of the Word” and so not deceive ourselves. What is “doing” the Word?

Look to Jesus for the answer. Doing the Word has nothing to do with hate. Doing the Word has more to do with sorrow. Jesus rarely shows even His anger for evil; rather He shows sorrow over evil. He shows His longing to gather His children to Himself as a mother hen seeks to gather her chicks to herself. Jesus loves His enemies; He does good to those who hate Him. He prays for those who seek to destroy Him and His Kingdom. And, this love isn’t self-righteous or haughty. Rather, Jesus is genuinely humble.

In mildness, receive the Word of God which may save your soul.

20 for the wrath of man worketh not the rightwiseness of God.

21 For which thing cast ye away all uncleanness, and plenty of malice, and in mildness receive ye the word that is planted[and in mildness receive ye the word inset, or joined], that may save your souls.

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

“Steadfast Love” ( Psalm 33:4-5, ESV ) by Carley Evans

c. 1480

Reading the Word of God, I’ve come to believe God’s love is firmly fixed in place : immovable, and as such is not subject to change. God’s love is firm in His belief, determination, and adherence to His purposes. As David sings:

“4 For the Word of the LORD is upright,
   and all His work is done in faithfulness.

5 He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.”

“In All Things Stand Perfect” ( Ephesians 6:12-13 WYC ) by Carley Evans

Images abound of the ‘armour of God’ we are to put on and take up —  Paul envisions helmet, breastplate, shield, shin guards, and sword as if we are soldiers standing in battle.

“For why striving is not to us against flesh and blood [For striving, or battle, is not to us against flesh and blood], but against [the] princes and potentates, against governors of the world of these darknesses, against spiritual things of wickedness, in heavenly things. Therefore take ye the armour of God, that ye be able to against-stand in the evil day; and in all things stand perfect.”

We are to “against-stand in the evil day; and in all things stand perfect.”

Notice against what we are to stand — not “against flesh and blood.” Rather our battle is against “spiritual things of wickedness, in heavenly things.” And what is “the armour of God” that makes you “able to against-stand in the evil day?”

The most readily available piece of armour we own is the Word — the Word indwelling, the Word written. With the Word of God, we “in all things stand perfect.”

“Hope In His Word” ( Psalm 130: 5, KJV ) by Carley Evans

“I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.”

Waiting — for me anyway — involves a patience I’m not known to have. I don’t like to be late, so it’s hard for me to tolerate others being late. I don’t like standing in lines. I get restless and want to move on. Sometimes, however, I recognize there is nothing to do but wait patiently. So, I do.

Waiting for God: what exactly does this entail? Jesus waits most of His life before He is called to baptism and trials in the desert. Perhaps at some point in His teen years He asks His Father, “not yet?” and readily accepts the response, “No, My Son, not yet.” God, in His wisdom, has times in mind. He not only knows what is best, He knows when is best. Waiting for God is waiting for His perfect timing.

How does my soul wait patiently for God? By keeping my hope in His Word, who is Jesus Christ. With any doubt that surfaces, I go back to the Word of God for renewal of patience in my wait.

“The Unfolding Of The Word” ( Psalm 119: 130, NIV ) by Carley Evans

Reading — or being in — the Word of God is not an intellectual undertaking. David sings,

“The unfolding [the gradual revelation or disclosure] of Your Words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple [unlearned, unsophisticated].”

Even the simple person, the person without a large knowledge base, is able to understand the Word of God as it is gradually disclosed or revealed. How does this revelation occur?

Here is the big question? Does this disclosure of the Word occur only through the Holy Spirit or also through the Church? My friend and fellow blogger, M.T. Sweat posed this question not long ago in his post “Sufficient or Not?”. The answer defines major differences in Christian approaches to both the Church and to the Word of God.

Many of David’s verses in his song honoring the Word of God clearly favor Scripture Alone.

“Deal with Your servant according to Your Love and teach me Your decrees. I am Your servant; give me discernment that I may understand Your statutes.” (Psalm 119:124-125)

“I rise before dawn and cry for help; I put my hope in Your Word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises.” (Psalm 119:147-148)

“Yet You are near, O Lord, and all Your commands are true.” (Psalm 119:151)

“Great peace have they who love Your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (Psalm 119:165)

“I stray like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I do not forget Your commands.” (Psalm 119:176)

“You are my refuge and my shield; I put my hope in Your Word.” (Psalm 119:114)