You Lift Me Up ( by Carley Evans )

Together, David and I sing of the wonders of God’s love:

My God heals me. He lifts me up. He brings my soul from the pit. He keeps me alive.

“For [Your] anger endures but a moment; in [Your] favor is life. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5, KJV)

I am never moved. I stand strong.

“You turn for me my mourning into dancing; You put off my sackcloth, and gird me with gladness.” (Psalm 30:11)

“O LORD, my God, I give thanks unto You forever.” (Psalm 30:12)

Heavenly Father, thank You for lifting me up above and beyond my petty problems. Thank You that pain and sorrow last but a moment while joy endures forever. In Jesus’ Name, I praise You. Amen.

Each According to His Capacity ( by Carley Evans )

God gives to each person “according to his capacity” (Matthew 25:16, NEB) — capacity being : legal competency or fitness, the potential or suitability for holding, storing, or accommodating, the maximum amount or number that can be contained or accommodated, an individual’s mental or physical ability, or the faculty or potential for treating, experiencing, or appreciating. Essentially, capacity is competency, fitness, mental or physical ability, and potential.

The story Jesus tells which illustrates God’s expectations in relation to our capacity is the parable of the man who calls his servants together before going abroad. “To one he gives 5 bags of gold, to another 2, to another 1.” (Matthew 25:15) He gives each servant a certain amount of gold “according to his capacity.” God’s expectations match each person’s competence, ability, potential.

Much time passes. Eventually the man returns home. He discovers the servant with 5 now has 10; the one with 2 now has 2 more; but the servant with only 1 “hides [the] gold in the ground” because he “is afraid.” (Matthew 25:25) All he has to give to the man is the 1 he is given in the first place. He misunderstands his master; and his fear of him destroys his capacity.

Father, keep us from becoming so afraid of You that we hide the gifts You’ve given us in the metaphorical ground where they are of no benefit to our fellow-man or to You. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

For All Nations ( by Carley Evans )

God declares, “My house is a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7, NIV)

When mankind lives in close proximity, they have the same language with “a common speech” (Genesis 11:1) They work together to build a tower to reach heaven so as “to make a name for [themselves].” (Genesis 11:4) With a common language, the evil of which mankind is capable is unlimited. God is not pleased, and confounds their plans by “confusing their language so they do not understand each other.” Then He “scatters them from there all over the earth.” (Genesis 11:7,8)

First, a common language, dialect and even culture. Then, many languages. Finally, many dialects and cultures resulting in a world divided.

Yet, God has another plan. He plans to bring all nations together again under one head, that is Christ Jesus.

Jesus Himself says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I Am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Heavenly Father, thank You that You love all cultures — that You created all languages and dialects; that You speak in all tongues so that anyone may understand Your Word. Help us to take the gospel message to every people everywhere. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Stacking the Deck ( by Carley Evans )

Watched a Johnson & Johnson commercial promoting nursing with a tagline of “Nurses Heal” and the nurse stating she believes in science and medicine and in “stacking the deck.” She puts a 4-leaf clover medallion in the palm of a comatose patient on a stretcher in an emergency room.

I believe in science and medicine, too. I also believe in stacking the deck. But, not with medallions or voodoo or horoscopes or seances or witchcraft or superstitions; instead I stack the deck with prayer.

Thank You, heavenly Father, that You are always listening, never tiring of our voices asking for Your interventions. In Jesus’ Name, help us to pray as we ought. Amen.

I’ll Call ( by Carley Evans )

Why do people say what they have no intention to do? My least favorite expression is “I’ll call you.” When I was more naïve than I am now, I actually believed that expression. I thought it was true; that my friend meant what she said. Unfortunately, for her, it was akin to asking “How are you?”

Many many people ask “How are you?” without a thought for the answer which may come. Perhaps the person asked this rhetorical question is sick, dying, lonely, lost, poor, hungry. The words fly out our mouths without care; sometimes we are on the move and have no intention of waiting for the response. We are likely long gone as the answer chases us. Some answers we don’t want to hear; those answers chase us away.

Jesus says, “I tell you this: anything you do for one of My brothers here, however humble, you do for Me.” (Matthew 25:40, NEB)

Lord, let the words of my mouth as well as the meditations of my heart be thoughtful and true. In Jesus’ Name, amen.


Why Marvel at This? ( by Carley Evans )

“Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man walk?” (The Acts 3:12, KJV)

Peter is downright flabbergasted that anyone would be surprised at the power which makes men walk or raises women from the dead. But he is even more bewildered that anyone would attribute this power to Peter himself rather than to Jesus.

Peter is distressed but not surprised when some of these same “men of Israel” “confer among themselves” to threaten Peter and John “not to speak henceforth to no man in this Name, nor teach in the Name of Jesus.” (The Acts 4:17,18)

Peter responds, “we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (The Acts 4:20) In other words, Peter tells the “men of Israel” that he and John speak only the truth of God. Of course, the truth of God trumps the threats of the “men of Israel.”

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the reminder that any natural gifts we may possess are directly from You, but any power we show forth is always only of You, emanating from Your nature and not from ours. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Untie the Cords of the Yoke ( by Carley Evans )

What I glory in mostly in Christ is my freedom — for Jesus “loosens the chains of injustice and unties the cords of the yoke, to set [this] oppressed [one, that’s me!] free.” (Isaiah 58:6, NIV) And, God says, “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger — [that finger and spirit of criticism] — and malicious talk — [that gossip against neighbor or even enemy] –” “then your light rises in the darkness and your night becomes like the noonday.” (Isaiah 58:9,10)

In freedom, “the Lord guides [me] always, He satisfies [my] needs in a sun-scorched land and strengthens [my] frame. [I am] like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Isaiah 58:11)

In freedom, I rejoice for “surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear.” (Isaiah 59:1) If I “share [my] food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter” “then [my] light breaks forth like the dawn, and [my] healing quickly appears; then [my] righteousness goes before [me], and the glory of the Lord is [my] rear guard.” (Isaiah 58:7-8)

“The Redeemer comes… to those who repent of their sins, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 59:20) In repentance, I find my freedom from oppression. Darkness fades; light springs forth. God stands behind me as my rear guard, and Jesus destroys my chains. He unties the cords of the yoke, and leads me in the path of everlasting life. Amen.

Who Does Sin? ( by Carley Evans )

Jesus’ disciples ask Him, “Master, who does sin, this man, or his parents, that he is born blind?” [The disciples might just as well ask, “Master, why is this man born blind?]

Jesus responds that neither the sins of the man born blind nor of his parents cause his blindness. Rather the man’s blindness is a vehicle to show forth the work of the Son of God — the work which God the Father sends Jesus to perform.

This work is to be performed in the daytime  — the three or so years Jesus walks the earth in ministry — during which Jesus is the Light of the world. Jesus says, “As long as I Am in the world, I Am the light of the world.” (John 9:5, KJV)

Then Jesus spits on the ground, makes a clay and anoints the eyes of the blind man. He commands the man to go to the pool of Siloam to wash. The man obeys, and “comes seeing.” (John 9:7)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that suffering in this world is not always the result of sin; that often You use situations, including great physical pain, to reveal Your glory not only to Your people but to a lost and dying world. Help us to trust You in every circumstance. In Jesus’ Name, amen.


Be Perfect ( by Carley Evans )

Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48, HCSB)

He starts by acknowledging that the Law of Moses calls for ‘tit for tat’ — or “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Matthew 5:38). If someone strikes you, strike him back. If someone sues you, resist him in court. If someone steals from you, demand reparation. If your enemy hates you, hate him back.

But, Jesus turns the Law upside down.

He commands, “Do not resist an evildoer.” (Matthew 5:39)

I’ve read about our right to defend ourselves, how Jesus never means that we can’t take up the sword against our enemies — but I don’t see that here. I hear Jesus say, “Do not resist.” Under force? — submit; being sued?  — settle; hit? — turn the other cheek; robbed? — give.

Why? Here’s the kicker. Jesus reminds us that even “the Gentiles” — i.e. those who do not have the Law of Moses “love those who love [them].” (Matthew 5:46) That’s easy! Anyone can do that! Anyone can greet the one who greets him! But God, our heavenly Father, is perfect. “For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)

“Therefore,” says Jesus, “be perfect.”

Father God, help us to love our enemies — those we consider ‘unlovable’. Remind us that You love all people, and send Your goodness out to the entire world. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Full of Grace

At breakfast today in a local cafe, I was glancing at the magazine ART and ARCHITECTURE, looking over beautiful images of Mary, the mother of Jesus, from a book entitled, at least in part, “FULL OF GRACE.”

In Scripture,”full of grace and truth” are descriptors of “the Word” who “is made flesh, and dwells among us.” He is the “only begotten of the Father.” (John 1:14, KJV) “Highly favored” and “blessed among women” are descriptors God — speaking through the angel Gabriel — uses of Mary, the mother of Jesus. (Luke 1:28)

The Word of God is made flesh within the body of the most blessed, favored woman of all time, Mary. She is possibly only thirteen when God the Holy Spirit “comes upon” and “overshadows” her so “that holy thing which is born of [her] is called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

Therefore, when Roman Catholics pray “Hail Mary, full of grace, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus;” these Christians are — perhaps unwittingly — stating that the grace, with which Mary is filled, is indeed the Son of God. This grace is not hers; she is not full of her own grace. Rather Mary is full of God’s grace for she is full of God Himself.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for overshadowing Mary and filling her with Your grace so that the fruit of her womb became our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May we worship You, and You alone. In Jesus’ Name, amen.