Who Can Say? ( by Carley Evans )


 

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“Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” (Proverbs 20:9, KJV)

 

I’ve heard people say this; I must admit the statement always surprises me. I’ve never said this because I’ve never accomplished this feat. I’m able to say, “Jesus made my heart clean, so I am pure from my sin.” But, I can’t say, I never sin.

To believe you never sin — that’s equivalent to believing you are perfect. You never make a mistake, you never do less than your very best, you never strike back, you never take more than your share, you never speak ill of another, you never go to bed with worry or anger in your heart, you never fail to notice someone’s pain, you never fail to help, you never roll your eyes, you never look away, you never forget to care, you never turn your back, you never run away.

I can not imagine.

I can know that Jesus is such a person. Like the lamb slaughtered as a substitute for people who sin, so Jesus substitutes Himself for me. His death on the cross wipes away my sins, though they be as red as the tide befouled by algae. And so, I stand pure before His Father in heaven.

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What I Have, I Give (by Carley Evans)


A man lame from birth is carried every day to the gate called Beautiful so people entering the temple complex are able to see him; and he is able to beg. Seeing John and Peter, he asks for help. Peter commands, “Look at us.” (Acts 3:4, HCSB) The lame beggar looks at Peter and John expecting a hand-out. Instead, Peter tells the man, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have I give you: In the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” (Acts 3:6)

I can imagine the man looking at Peter with some disgust and certainly disappointment. He may know the Name of Jesus the Nazarene; he also may be thinking only of his empty stomach and his aching body. Notice he does not take Peter’s hand or even reach up for him; rather Peter takes the lame beggar by the right hand, and raises him up. “At once his feet and ankles become strong.” (Acts 3:7) When the man realizes his legs are strong, then”he jumps up, stands, and starts to walk, and he enters the temple complex with [John and Peter] — walking, leaping, and praising God.” (Acts 3:8)

Recall it is “by faith in [Jesus’] Name; His Name makes this man strong.” Peter tells the crowd gathering in the temple complex, “So the faith that comes through [Jesus] gives [this man] this perfect health in front of all of you.” (Acts 3:16)

So what does Peter give to the lame beggar? Healing? No. In a sense, Peter loans him faith. Through Peter’s belief, the man’s body is made whole. Once healed, the man finds a faith of his own, leaping and praising God for himself.

“I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you.” (Acts 3:6)

Woe to You! (by Carley Evans)


Jesus cries, “Woe to you Pharisees!”

Pharisees keep the outside sparkling clean while remaining filthy inside. Pharisees give exactly a tenth and no more. Pharisees walk in pride, always in the most prominent places. Pharisees are experts in the law, but “load people with burdens that are hard to carry.” (Luke 11:46, HCSB)

Jesus accuses, “You take away the key of knowledge! You don’t go in yourselves, and you hinder those who are going in.” (Luke 11:52)

To the crowd, Jesus gives warning: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered, nothing hidden that won’t be made known. Therefore, whatever you say in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you whisper in an ear in private rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Luke 12:1-3)

Woe to the hypocrite.

Dearest Father God, forgive me for my hypocrisies. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

A Mighty Big Piece of Wood (by Carley Evans)


“That’s a mighty big cross you have there, but the question is — do you have faith, Charlie?”

The ultimate question — what good does the cross of Jesus Christ do you without a personal faith in Him as Lord and Savior? The obvious answer — no good at all.

Anyone can hold up the cross against evil, but only the one who holds it up in belief can overcome. The cross is only a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice, and in and of itself has no power.

After Jesus’ resurrection, He appears on shore of the Sea of Tiberias at daybreak. Simon Peter, “Twin”, Nathaniel of Cana, the Zebedee’s sons and two other disciples are there. Peter up and decides to go fishing. Everyone says, “We’re going with you.” They all go out in the boat, but catch nothing. From the shore, Jesus calls out to them, “You don’t have any fish, do you?” They do not recognize Him, but they say, “no” anyway. He tells them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. So Simon Peter and the others do what this stranger tells them. And they catch a “large number of fish,” so many “they are unable to haul it in.” And the disciple whom Jesus loves, says to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Peter, who has no clothes on, ties his outer garment around him, leaps into the water, and presumably swims to shore. The other disciples come in the boat, dragging the large catch.

When they reach shore, Jesus is sitting at a charcoal fire cooking fish on it. And He has bread, too! He invites them to have breakfast.

No one dares to ask, “Who are you?” because they know it is the Lord. (John 21:1-14, HCSB)

I can imagine there was an order to the recognition of Jesus by the disciples. Obviously the disciple Jesus loves is the first to know Him, then likely Peter. After that, I wouldn’t venture a guess. Until each believes, he does not recognize the Lord. It does not matter that the other disciples know Jesus; each must recognize Him for himself.

A personal faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior gives the cross its power over evil; otherwise the cross is “just a big piece of wood.”

The Arrogance of Total Belief


Faith, it occurs to me, is over confidence. Faith is taking for granted that you will have what you ask for, what you hope for, what you anticipate. Faith is certainty. In one way, faith is almost an arrogance. “I believe; therefore I have.”

Not often in my life have I experienced that certainty, that arrogance of total belief that something I want is also something I will have; that what I desire falls in line with the plan of God for my life or for the life of someone I love. Frankly that level of certainty — that taking it for granted — is utterly terrifying.

Is this self-deception? Of course, true faith — total certainty — precludes that question, eliminating the possibility of self-deception. Nevertheless, I’m frightened. Yet, perfect love also precludes fear. Therefore — perhaps — my certainty is only arrogance.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of faith. Thank You that belief “as tiny as a mustard seed” is completely effective. Help us to ask You, Lord for that which is in line with Your will and not ours. In Jesus’ Name, amen.