Who Gives First? ( by Carley Evans )

“Who knows the mind of the Lord? Or who is His counselor? Or who ever first gives to Him, and has to be repaid?” (Romans 11:34-35, HCSB)

Who loves first? Who gives first? Isn’t the first lover and the first giver God Himself?

“We love because He first loves us.” (1 John 4:19)

“This is how we come to know love: He lays down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need — how can God’s love reside in him?” (1 John 3:16-17)

“Love consists in this: not that we love God, but that He loves us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the One born of Him.” (1 John 5:1)

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God — God remains in him and he in God. And we come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.” (1 John 4:15-16)

Father God, thank You that You love us first, that Your love casts off fear as it eliminates punishment. Thank You for Your wondrous gift of salvation from our sins and from the horror of eternal fire. In Jesus’ Name, may we walk in Your love. For we love because You love us. Amen.


Are Christians ‘Sinners Saved by Grace’ or ‘Saints’? ( by Carley Evans )

An interesting debate pops up now and then — are Christians sinners? Or are they now and ever only saints?

In the same portion of the same letter, the author of 1 John writes, “If we claim to have fellowship with [God] yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” In the very next sentence, he also writes, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:6-8, NIV)

So we are sinners saved by grace who walk in the light, and who are purified by the blood of Jesus. Of course, we continue to sin. We are not perfected yet.

The author of 1 John continues, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His Word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:9-10) He goes on to state that he is writing this so that they “will not sin.” (1 John 2:1)

So, we are saints by virtue of the fact that we confess our sins; and Jesus faithfully out of His justice forgives us our sins and makes us righteous.

Thank You, Lord for Your awesome gift of salvation and sanctification. In Jesus’ Name, amen!



“Go And Learn”

Jesus is criticized by the Pharisees for eating with tax collectors and sinners. When they see Jesus reclining in Matthew’s house with many sinners, the Pharisees criticize Him to His disciples, not to His face. But, Jesus hears. He says to them, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ In this statement, Jesus refers to God the Father who commands, ‘I desire steadfast love, and not burnt offerings.’ (Hosea 6:6, ESV)

Jesus reminds the Pharisees and His own disciples that He comes to earth “not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)

Of course, what’s interesting is that there are no righteous people — no people who are healthy, holy, righteous, who have no need of God. These people do not exist. Jesus tells the religious leaders that if they believe they can see, then they remain blind.

“If [you] say [you] have no sin, [you] deceive [yourself], and the truth is not in [you.]” (1 John 1:8) But with confession of sin, Jesus “is faithful and just to forgive [you] [your] sins and to cleanse [you] from all unrighteousness. If [you] say [you] have not sinned, [you] make [God] a liar, and His Word is not in [you.]” (1 John 1:9-10)

Learn this important truth — that Jesus comes to save you, a sinner lost. He seeks you with the same diligence of a shepherd who goes out into the dark, driving weather to find the wandering lamb. When He locates you, Jesus picks you up and slings you gently across His shoulders. He carries you to safe pasture, and keeps you there. His crook is firm, gentle, unyielding and He holds it against your neck whenever you stray. You now belong to Him.