Sunday, June 25, 2017

Imitating Jesus

June 25 (1 Corinthians 11:1)


Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.  (ESV)


James Dean spawned a legion of young men who tried to look tough by adopting his signature look.  Girls did the same thing with Madonna’s fashions in the 1980s.  Countless athletes try to mimic their favorite sports figures.  This is why companies want celebrity endorsements.  They know that we all imitate others, and if the ones we imitate wear certain clothes, drive certain cars, or eat certain foods, their followers will do the same.

Paul invited the Corinthians to imitate him, which in his case meant imitating Christ Jesus.  So what does that mean?  First of all, it means studying Him closely.  Ardent fans can tell you the most obscure details about their favorite stars.  What do you know about Jesus?  What kind of man is He?  What are His interests, His personality, His desires?

Me?  I’m a music lover, and nothing gets me more pumped than seeing a favorite artist perform live with the hope of maybe getting to meet the person and catching a selfie with him.  You start finding out who Jesus is by reading about Him in the Bible, but then you need to meet Him in person.  You see, He really did rise from the dead.  He really does live today.  He invites each person into an intimate relationship with Him.  If you want to imitate Him the way Paul did, you have to get to know him.


Jesus, I want to know You better.  I want to know You more personally.  At times I have considered You just one more historical figure rather than my living brother, friend, and savior.  Show me Who You really are because I want to be more like You.  Amen.


Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Strength of Soul

June 18 (Psalm 138:3)


On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.  (ESV)


Strength of soul…what a great phrase!  It suggests something far more than physical strength.  Yet it is also more than mental strength or emotional strength.  Strength of soul is something much deeper.  It is strength at the fundamental level of who you are.

Recall a time when you just had to get something done.  It may have been pulling an all-nighter to make sure you were ready for the exam.  It may have been settling down to the weeks and months ahead of dealing with the aftermath of loss or tragedy.  Whatever it was, you had this sense of needing to dig down deep into a reserve of strength not usually tapped.  You needed strength of soul.

The beautiful, wonderful, amazing thing is that this deepest source of strength is yours for the asking.  David says that on the day he called to God, He answered him, and his strength of soul increased.  No one sits on the couch wondering why he does not get physically stronger.  It takes work.  It is simple work, but there is something a person must do to build muscles.  The same is true with strength of soul, and it is just as simple.  You call out to God in prayer.  You let Him speak to you through sustained, quiet time with Him.  You give yourself over to His word in the Bible.  I can testify along with David that your strength of soul will indeed increase.

Lord, I need the strength of soul that You gave David.  Whether I am facing a particular challenge or going through the daily tasks of life, I need more than my natural resources of brain power and physical might can accomplish.  Grant me that deep strength that I may meet victoriously all that lies before me.  In the name of Jesus, my Savior, I pray.  Amen.


Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, June 11, 2017

We Need A Mediator

June 11 (Job 9:33)


If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together.  (ESV)


Job’s story is the classic example of a man who does not understand why his life is falling apart.  You may not suffer boils all over your body or the loss of all your livestock and children, but there are things in your life that you do not like, nor do you understand why they are the way they are.  Welcome!  You are a card-carrying member in the Society of Job.

Just as Job did, many people cry out to a deity when trouble hits, even if it is only to proclaim to God that this is the reason they do not believe in Him.  Yet in the midst of his grief, Job realizes something.  If only there were a mediator between God and man, someone who could act as a go-between….  Have you ever asked a friend in school to speak to the teacher on your behalf or asked a co-worker to go to the boss with you?  We all want someone who knows our situation, who has our best interests at heart, AND who has the connections to help us.

Enter Jesus.  He is the very mediator that Job longed for.  He sits at the right hand of our Father and, by His own words, He is with us always (Matthew 28:20).  So cry to Him.  Share your anger with Him.  Pour out your hurts to Him.  He knows the depths of your heart already, but He wants to hear from you, and He will take your deepest concerns to His Father and yours.

Oh, Jesus.  I hardly know where to begin.  Still the storm within my heart so that I may lay my worries and concerns before You.  I need somebody to help me, and although everything else is in turmoil, I do trust in You.  Hear my cares that I may move past them in victory and in You.  Amen.



Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Waiting In Faithfulness

June 4 (Habakkuk 2:3-4)


For the revelation awaits an appointed time;

     it speaks of the end

     and will not prove false.

Though it linger, wait for it;

     it will certainly come

     and will not delay.

See, the enemy is puffed up;
    his desires are not upright—    

 but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.  (ESV)


“Are we there yet?”  It is a question every child asks when going on a trip, and it is a question we all ask of God.  We want something.  We pray about it and are convinced that God wants it, too, or at least is not opposed to it.  And then we wait.  Only the problem is that we do not wait.  If we have prayed at breakfast, by our midmorning coffee break we are upset that God has not come through for us.

A child who repeatedly asks how much longer the trip will be is focused solely on the destination.  He does not consider what else his parents have in store along the way and is incapable of understanding all that they know about making such a journey.  As adults, we think we know it all and can somehow discern the ways of God, but the problem remains the same.  We focus on the gift and not the Giver.

There is no word of God that will not come to pass.  Keep waiting in faith, which is easier to do if you keep your eyes on Him and not how you imagine His word will be fulfilled.  And truly, if your eyes are filled with Him, you will be filled with more joy than anything your own mind could conjure.


Lord, You know the desires of my heart.  I pray first that they are in line with Your desires.  If they are not, help me to abandon them.  As I wait for the fulfillment of Your good and perfect will, fill the eyes of my heart with Jesus.  May He be all I see.  Amen.


Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Joy In Hardship

May 28 (Habakkuk 3:17-18)


Though the fig tree should not blossom,

     nor fruit be on the vines,the produce of the olive fail

and the fields yield no food,the flock be cut off from the fold

     and there be no herd in the stalls,yet I will rejoice in the Lord;

I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (ESV)


It does not always work out the way we want.  Sickness comes.  Death takes a loved one.  Accidents happen.  Loss occurs.  Lies, betrayal, and pride take their toll on us, even when we have done what is right.  The Christian faith, more than any other program of thought or philosophy, is a realistic way to handle the inevitable setbacks and hardships of life.

Christians rejoice in the Lord and take their joy in the God of their salvation.  They do not ignore suffering or pretend that it is less painful than it is, but in times of sickness, we find joy in the Lord.  In death we rejoice in Him.  In every moment or extended seasons of distress, we praise Him and find our life and hope in Him.

How is that possible?  Why should we respond to difficulties in this way and not in the countless ways the world offers?  It is simple.  This is what Jesus did.  He faced execution for what He had not done, and yet He kept His gaze focused on His Father.  And He is the One Who came back from the dead and offers His power to all Who accept Him.  When it comes to tragedies of my life or even the daily discomforts, I am going to do what He did.


Lord, You are the source of my joy.  In You I live and move and have my being.  I can find life nowhere else, so help me to stop seeking it there.  May I be valiant in hardship because of You, the source of my salvation.  Amen.




Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Courage To Be Faithful

May 21 (Acts 16:21)


They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.  (ESV)


The time is coming and may in fact be here in some places when speaking the truth and truths of God may be illegal.  It already breaks certain unwritten, social laws.  What will you do?

Paul had commanded a demon to leave a slave girl, and her owners claimed damage to their business and had Paul arrested.  Don’t focus on the demon or the issue of slavery.  Notice that business owners were claiming an act done in faithfulness to and in the power of Jesus Christ was bad for them economically.  Can you imagine the same thing being said today?  Of course you can.  Increasingly it seems that living as a follower of Christ is incompatible with work in schools, business, and government.  What will you do?

Paul did not think.  He did not weigh his decision or ask for the input of friends.  He turned around and commanded the demon to leave the girl and was thrown into jail for it.  Yet because of that, a jailer and his family were baptized into the family of God.


Father, give me the courage to be faithful.  In my work, with my friends, and in my daily interactions with people, may I be the salt and light that Jesus wants me to be.  In His name I pray.  Amen.


Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Mother Once Stood

May 14 (Luke 2:35)


and a sword will pierce through your own soul also…  (ESV)


A mother, grief stricken, just stood,
Eyes full of tears next to a cross
On which was hanging her son.

Through her soul, groaning and with him
Sharing his despair and grieving
A sword has already passed.

It is Mother’s Day in the United States, a day to celebrate all that mothers mean in our lives.  Mothers not our own have blessed us, too.  Mothers of friends, the mother of our spouse, mothers we will never meet who reared their children well to become the neighbors and co-workers we love…we are grateful to them all.

Yet no mother in the history of the world has given us more than Mary, the mother of Jesus.  As a scared young girl engaged to be married, she gave herself to the will of God to be the mother of His son on earth, and the angel said all nations would call her blessed because of it.  And then she bore what no mother should have to bear.  She stood beside the cross and watched as her son, her boy, willingly died for the sins of the world, including ours.

Today is a day for remembering mothers.  Take a moment and remember what one mother endured so God’s plan for your salvation could be fulfilled.  If you like, listen to the exquisite Arvo Pärt rendering of “Stabat Mater,” whose opening verses are above (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrP4z9kfOv4&t=880s Words begin at the 4:05 mark).  We have much for which to be grateful to mothers, many mothers, not just our own.


Father, You have blessed me with many mothers, women who helped shape my life both directly and indirectly.  Thank You for their words and their work.  May You bless richly those who are still here and welcome with love those who have gone home.  In the name of Jesus, Who died and rose again for all mothers and fathers and children everywhere, amen.


Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins