To Be Seen by Men ( by Carley Evans )

Rewards are rather cool to get, don’t you agree? It’s nice to be recognized. And, it can be depressing to give of yourself or work especially hard and not receive recognition for your efforts. Granted you may get a nice paycheck, but I think if you are honest you can admit that if you receive nothing more than money, you may feel dissatisfied.

On the other hand, to work for the recognition of men is to lack proper perspective.

Jesus tells us that if we love to do things in the sight of men, primarily for their recognition, “[we] have received [our] reward in full.” (Matthew 6:5, NIV)

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)

“Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” (Matthew 6:3)

Think about that last comment by our Lord. Keep the ‘good’ you do so secret even you aren’t that aware. “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, rewards you.” (Matthew 6:4)

Father God, thank You that You know the secrets of our hearts, both our successes and our failures and You ultimately are the only One we need to please. In Jesus’ Name, help us keep to the narrow path that leads to love and life. Amen!



Accommodating ( by Carley Evans )

In Capernaum, the tax collectors for the temple ask Peter, “Doesn’t your Teacher pay the double-drachma tax?” Peter doesn’t even hesitate, but responds, “Yes.”

In the house, Jesus speaks to Peter. He says, “What do you think? Do kings tax their own children or is the tax reserved for strangers?” Peter answers correctly, “The tax is for strangers. Kings don’t tax their own kids.”

“That’s right,” says Jesus. “Sons are free!”

Yet, Jesus also says, “Let’s not offend the temple tax collectors. You go down to the sea, cast a fishhook out into the water — no, it’s not going to have any bait on it — and the first fish you manage to catch, take it. Open its mouth, and find a coin. Take that coin and give it to the temple tax collectors for Me and for you.”

Despite being free from the rules, Jesus does not wish to offend those who follow the rules and expect Him to follow those same rules. “This is the least of My concerns, Peter. Yet, it’s not a problem for Me or even for you. We can take care of it without much effort. God provides the coin in a most unusual way — in the mouth of a fish. We don’t even need any bait to catch this fish. And so, the coin we gain is His anyway. Let’s just give it to the temple and be done with it.”

In this manner, Jesus accommodates man’s adherence to rules not meant for Him, the Lord of Life. Jesus is the Son of God. The temple, like the Sabbath, is made for Him; He is not made for the Sabbath or the temple.

“Then the sons are free,” Jesus tells us.

Thank You Lord we are set free. Let us not put a yoke of slavery over our backs again. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

*(paraphrase, Matthew 17:24-27, HCSB by Carley Evans)

God’s Show ( by Carley Evans )

I’ve watched THOR twice in a movie theater, and twice via rentals  — I paid attention in the theaters, but drifted at home. Nevertheless, the ending credits on the large screen include a montage of images from the Hubble telescope: swirling galaxies, huge colorful nebula, clusters of red giants set to soaring, beautiful music. The camera flies in and out of a myriad of gorgeous space formations I’d love to see firsthand. I nearly cried. The wonder of the universe reflects the glorious creativity of our God. Even if THOR is about aliens who apparently came to earth at some distant point and were worshiped as gods, it doesn’t matter. The beauty at the end is worth the wait. And, of course, I obviously find the rest of the movie entertaining. I mean, I’ve seen it 4 times! I can’t believe I’ve not seen those ending credits at an IMAX!

Still, it’s not THOR I admire; it’s the universe I am in awe of. And way beyond this, I am in total admiration of its Creator. The infinite variety God creates in nature — especially in space — is emotionally overwhelming.

After returning THOR to Redbox, I decided to find a NASA montage of Hubble images. What I discovered online was disappointing to say the least. Whereas Hollywood producers of a commercial film manage to capture the glory of God, NASA manages to create a slide show advertisement for a telescope — a great telescope for sure, but only a telescope. The universe is background; and God not even an afterthought.

I’ll take THOR any day.

Father, thank You that I see You everywhere! Your universe is a wonder; and I so appreciate the glimpse of it I gained through a movie! All praise to You, my God and King. In Jesus’ Name, 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.

Like a Little Child ( by Carley Evans )

Jesus says:

“Unless you change and become like little children, you never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4,NIV)

To Nicodemus, Jesus says:

“I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:3,5)

First we see. We see by being born again. We are changed. We are changed by being born of water and the Spirit of God. We then enter the kingdom of heaven.

God the Holy Spirit says:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning… He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believe in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:1-2,10-13)

The world is incapable of seeing the kingdom of heaven. With God’s intervention we are given the right to become children of God, born not of human decision but of the will of God Himself.

Thank You, Lord for Your mercy. 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.

Mom Wants Sons to be Greatest ( by Carley Evans )

A mother wants the best for her child. She sees her child’s flaws, but she relishes her child’s abilities above and beyond those minor problems. Sometimes a mother does more than her children expect her to do, pushing ahead in an effort to be supportive or of assistance.

The mother of the sons of Zebedee finds Jesus. She kneels at His feet, and points to her two sons. Jesus asks, “What is it you want?” She says to Him that she wants one of her sons to sit at His left hand while the other son sits at His right hand “in [His] kingdom.” (Matthew 20:21)

This mother intervenes for her children. She asks the Lord, the Son of God, for special treatment for her two sons. Jesus does not speak to her; instead He turns to her sons, first telling them they have no idea what is being expected of them by their mother. He then asks, “Can you drink the cup I Am going to drink?” (Matthew 20:22) Each man says that he can. Likely neither wants to disappoint a loving mother. Jesus acknowledges that they are indeed going to drink of His cup, but that the two places “belong to those for whom they are prepared by My Father.” (Matthew 20:23)

Nothing more is said of the sons of Zebedee in regards to their response to this. Nothing more is said of their mother. However, when hearing of the request, the other ten disciples “are indignant with the two brothers.” (Matthew 20:24) Jesus calls everyone together and tells them about rulers and high officials lording over others with authority. Jesus says, “Not so with you.” (Matthew 20:26)

Jesus tells His disciples the secret to greatness is being a servant, even a slave to others. He reveals His own greatness is due to His willingness to serve rather than be served, and “to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

The mother of the sons of Zebedee does not know what she is asking.

Father God, help us to set aside our ambitions and serve one another in love. In Jesus’ Name, amen.