At Your Word ( by Carley Evans )


All night Peter and the other fishermen toil yet catch nothing! When Jesus says to Peter, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught,” Peter responds, “At Thy Word, I will let down the net.” (Luke 5:4,5; KJV)

In the face of certain failure, Peter — with the other fishermen — obeys the Lord.

“And when they do this, they enclose a great multitude of fish; and their net breaks.” (Luke 5:6) When they “launch out into the deep,” they find what they do not find on their own — FISH!

The abundance breaks the net, probably at the cost of a few fish. Peter beckons to their other partners to come help. Together, they fill these boats with so many fish they begin to sink!

And Peter’s response is perfectly understandable. He falls at Jesus’ feet and declares, “I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8)

Thank You, Lord that despite our sinful state, You continue to act on our behalf. You give us opportunities in which You show Your great power and awesome love. We praise You, Father God. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

My Heart Leaps ( by Carley Evans )


Lord, “be [my] shepherd and carry [me] forever.” (Psalm 28:9, NIV)

I am a lamb tossed gently across the back of my Savior. He carries me there; I am securely held. “My heart leaps for joy.” (Psalm 28:7)

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness, for His Name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:1-3)

“He gives [me] the desire of [my] heart.” (Psalm 20:4)

“I shout for joy when [I] am victorious and lift up [my] banners in the Name of [my] God.” (Psalm 20:5)

Lord, “be [my] shepherd and carry [me] forever.” (Psalm 28:9)

A Sense of Awe ( by Carley Evans )


After the day of Pentecost, the newly baptized Christians — some 3 thousand men and presumably their wives and children — “meet constantly to hear the apostles teach, and to share the common life, to break bread, and to pray. A sense of awe is everywhere.” (Acts 2:42-43,NEB) This awe is “an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful.”

“With one mind,” these early Christians “share their meals with unaffected joy, as they praise God and enjoy the favour of the whole people.” (Acts 2:46-47)

“A sense of awe is everywhere.” This awe explains their actions — their willingness to sell personal property to distribute funds for the needs of others; their joy and praise in their attendance at temple; their ability to be of one mind, and their obtaining of the favour of all people.

“And day by day the Lord adds to their number those whom He is saving.” (Acts 2:47)

Father God, the awe of the early Christians inspires. Help me to discover worship — true religion which calls for me to defend those who need my help — widows and orphans; to be exact — those who are abandoned, alone, helpless. Give me Jesus’ heart for the world. In His Name, amen.

Glory in Weakness ( by Carley Evans )


I love how Paul relies on the Lord, saying:

“The Lord rescues me from every evil attack, and brings me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (2 Timothy 4:18,NIV)

When I was in high school, I used to think Paul was the most arrogant man who’d ever lived. I thought he was boasting in his letters to the churches. As a grew into my Christian faith, I came to see Paul as a man who glories in his own weakness because God’s power is shown perfect in man’s weaknesses.

John the Baptist similarly glories in his own weakness, recognizing that he is unfit to tie or untie the laces on the shoes of the Christ, who comes to him to be baptized in the Jordan. “I must decrease,” he says. “He must increase.”

The wretched sinner who does not lift his eyes when he prays glories in his own weakness for he knows he is not worthy of God’s attention, mercy, justice, love, forgiveness.

It is not the man who declares or thinks of himself as righteous who is justified; it is the man who knows he is unworthy. For everyone who exalts himself is humbled, but the humble God exalts.

“Forgive us, Lord, for thinking we can bring anything of value to You without You having given that value to us first. 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.

 

At 51 Park Place ( by Carley Evans )


I ride the subway downtown Manhattan to see the 9/11 Memorial site — I’ve looked forward to this for several weeks now. Coming out of the tunnel into the daylight, a man – a tour guide – confronts me with a smile. “Have you come for the memorial?” When I say I have indeed, he tells me what I should already know – “You have to have a ticket. The wait for tickets is like two to three weeks.” I laugh. Yep, that’s how naive I am. To think I can just walk right up to the 9/11 Memorial site. Ah well.

The other place I am hoping to see has no long lines and only a few visitors. A controversial place it is: the new mosque is actually an old city structure being renovated, not built from the ground up. Before I see it, I think it is a new building. It’s not. Prayers are taking place in the unfinished basement — I am not allowed to see that area. But the restrooms are adjacent and I see the socked feet of men in the other room, and I hear the intoned chants. I say to my daughter after laughing loudly at the handwritten signs “female” and “male” with big red arrows drawn below the titles, “Oh, they’re praying.” Then I whisper from that point on.

That it is a work in progress becomes apparent as my daughter pulls a shard of glass from the bottom of her converse shoe — the broken glass is all over the floor outside the restroom.

Upstairs, beautiful photographs of children adorn the large white walls. These children represent all the nations of the world, but each lives somewhere in the 5 boroughs of New York City. The child has to have been born in the nation she or he represents, or her parents must be from that nation. I find the baby representing Estonia. My children are Estonian-American. Such a lovely moment. We look at children from all over the world, delighted.

A man approaches me. He asks me if he may ask me some questions about the center on camera. I agree. He asks me if I believe different religions are capable of co-existing peacefully in the world today. And I say, “I don’t know. I really don’t know given the climate we live in. But, I hope so. I really do. I really hope so.”

Now, why do I say this when I genuinely believe the only way to God is through Jesus Christ our Lord? The answer is simple — just because someone does not believe as I do, I have no right to hate them. Hatred is self-destroying as well as other-destroying.

God is Love. In Him is no darkness at all.

Sorry About That ( by Carley Evans )


Last night, after a day during which I felt completely exhausted, I decided to go to bed early. Right before that decision, I’d opened up the blank “Add New Post” page on ‘obsecrations.’ I did not have a thought as what to write — which is usual for me, at least until I get started — but, as soon as I faced the whiteness of the page, I said to myself, “No, not tonight. I’m too tired. I’ve already written one post for GRACE PARTAKERS; one is enough.” I closed my computer, and headed for sleep.

Sleep did not come. Usually when I crawl into bed, sleep is almost immediate. I tossed and turned, my mind reviewing the future. Normally I don’t review the future; I certainly try not to rehash the past.

Right before I finally fell into peace, I thought to myself, “I guess I was supposed to write a post for ‘obsecrations.’ Hey Lord, sorry about that.” Below, I am going to quote a verse about turning from wicked ways which is — yes — to imply that not following the prompting of the Holy Spirit is certainly not holy, and is most definitely not seeking God’s face.

“If My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV)

In a Sycamore Tree ( by Carley Evans )


The tree Zaccheus climbs — to obtain a view of the approaching Jesus — is likely massive, its limbs providing a wonderfully wide, flat spot to sit and observe. Zaccheus climbs the huge Sycamore tree because he is too short to see over the crowd. Knowing the path Jesus is to take, Zaccheus runs ahead of the approaching Lord.

Jesus walks right up to the Sycamore tree in which the rich tax collector is sitting, looks up at Zaccheus and tells him to “make haste, and come down.” (Luke 19:5, KJV)

Zaccheus has been rushing around all day trying to “see Jesus, who He is.” (Luke 19:3) Now Jesus is directly below his perch, as if He Himself has been looking for Zaccheus. Jesus says, “Today I must abide at thy house.” (Luke 19:5) This rich tax collector is absolutely thrilled with what appears to be his great luck. He climbs down the big tree as quickly as he is able, “and receives [Jesus] joyfully.”

The crowd feels unlucky, and even annoyed. “They all murmur, saying that [Jesus] is gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.” (Luke 19:7) Perhaps Zaccheus is embarrassed, knowing the peoples’ hatred of his profession and therefore of him, for he says to Jesus, “Lord, Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him four-fold.” (Luke 19:8)

People in the crowd may not be impressed, but Jesus is happy. He says, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.” (Luke 19:10) He turns to Zaccheus, and welcomes him into the kingdom of heaven: “This day is salvation come to this house.” (Luke 19:9)

Dear Father God, thank You for Your desire to seek and save that which is lost — us. Thank You that Jesus was looking for Zaccheus even more than Zaccheus was looking for Him. In Your Son’s Name, amen.

 

 

From Whence My Faith? ( by Carley Evans )


Ever think about this — where does your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior originate? Does this saving faith emerge from your dead-in-sin heart? Or does your heart need a quickening work? Do your black-as-the-depths-of-space heart and mind and soul need a work from the outside in — a work of God Himself?

My faith is not a thing I am able to generate out of the nothingness that was in me. My belief is a gift from God the Holy Spirit, given to me before I was even a thought in my parents’ lives, before Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, before the foundation of the world itself.

I am a work of God.

Like the Tax Collector ( by Carley Evans )


Jesus seems most disgusted by persons who “choose the best places for themselves.” (Luke 14:7, HCSB) These persons “recline at the best place” at a wedding (Luke 14:8), “love the front seat in the synagogues” (Luke 11:43), and pray, “God, I thank You that I’m not like other people — greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.” (Luke 18:11-12) They invite only friends and relatives and rich neighbors to lunch “because they may invite [them] back” so they are repaid. (Luke 14:12)

Jesus knows these people who seek to be first — “to be exalted” — are to “be humbled, and the ones who humble themselves are to be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

The person justified before God, per Jesus, is the tax collector — the man who stands far off, “does not even raise his eyes to heaven but keeps striking his chest and saying, ‘God, turn Your wrath from me — a sinner!’ I tell you, this one goes down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:13-14)

Lord, thank You so much for Your willingness to sacrifice Yourself for me, a sinner now saved by Your grace.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.