Nine Days ( by Carley Evans )


Holy Spirit

(Photo credit: micmol )

For the past nine days, I’ve seen a marked drop-off in visits to Grace Partakers, and a bit – well, that may be stretching the truth — of an increase here at obsecrations. When things are going along merrily and then suddenly not, I take pause. Have I done something to displease others? Wait. That doesn’t really matter compared to the key question: Have I done something to offend the Holy Spirit? I can’t even imagine going through a full day without offending God’s Holy Spirit here and there, so the critical question: Have I done something to offend the Holy Spirit without confessing it? Yes. I imagine so.

Sometimes, it’s quite obvious what I’ve done to offend. Other times, I’m not so sure. Things that I believe offend Him most include: spiritual pride, arrogance, hatred, self-hatred, envy, jealousy, rage, depression, loneliness. I can almost hear you protest — depression? Loneliness?

I’m going to let that percolate in your own minds for a while before coming back to those ‘sins’ later; perhaps much later.

Oh — please forgive me.

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To an Unknown God ( by Carley Evans )


“22And Paul stood in the middle of Areopagus, and said, Men of Athens, by all things I see you as vain worshippers.

23 For I passed, and saw your maumets [and saw your simulacra], and found an altar, in which was written, To the unknown God. Therefore which thing ye unknowing worship, this thing I show to you.” (Acts 17:22-23, WYC)

Paul calls the Athenians “vain worshippers.” He points out their “maumets [simulacra]” and the altar upon which is written: “To the unknown God.” Paul says God once overlooked the ignorance that allows men to worship things made by their own hands, things made of silver or stone or gold.

“But now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31, NIV)

God calls us to repent of our ignorance, to set aside — nay, destroy — our idols. He commands us to align ourselves with His Son, Jesus Christ. When God judges the world with justice, His judgment will be “by the Man appointed” to satisfy His wrath. Proof of God’s satisfaction, of His acceptance of our repentance is the resurrection of His Son from the dead.

 

The Kingdom is Near ( by Carley Evans )


John the Baptist preaches in the Desert of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 3:2, NIV) He warns the Pharisees to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3:8) “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:10)

Paul writes,

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Jesus says,

“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain — first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)

Sovereign Lord, thank You for producing the fruits of Your Holy Spirit through us. Ready us for Your coming harvest. Let us be the full kernel of grain and not the dead root of a barren tree. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

All Alike ( by Carley Evans )


“Jesus answers, ‘Do you think that these Galileans are worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffer this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you all too perish.'” (Luke 13:2-3, NIV)

Again, here is the gospel in miniature — Jesus answers the age-old question, why do people suffer? with the absolute answer — no, people don’t suffer because they are worse sinners than others. Rather, all alike are sinners and all alike suffer. All perish, unless all repent.

Such an extraordinarily simple message: you are a sinner; you die because of your sin unless you repent. When you repent and accept His gift of salvation through the shedding of His blood, Jesus rescues you from sin. He essentially dies so that you do not.

Father God, thank You again for Your kind mercy. 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.