Sunday, January 14, 2018

Where Do You Go First For Help?

January 14 (Psalm 118:9)


It is better to take refuge in the Lord

     than to trust in princes.  (ESV)


We are born into a story already well under way.  As a result, we assume and expect that the structures in place around us have it all together and exist for our benefit.  This is a reasonable perspective of parents for an infant to hold, but we often maintain it long afterward and extend it to teachers, coaches, and business and government leaders.  Even our casual conversations challenging the leaders around us are based on the idea that they should be able to meet all our needs and solve all our problems.

Friends, this is not even remotely realistic.  Yes, God often works through other people and sometimes intervenes directly in our lives, but we must always start by going to Him.  He may then direct us to someone or lead another person to speak into our situation, but the help comes from Him.  He is our refuge.

Sometimes my first thought is to email friends.  In my worse moments I try to handle problems myself or simply seek refuge in my own turbulent thoughts.  This, however, is more than a mistake.  It is a missed opportunity.  God wants us to take refuge in Him and to come to Him for the help we truly need.

Father, it is such a deep part of my approach to life to try to do things on my own, and because of that earth-bound outlook, when I do seek help, it is often not from You.  I confess and renounce that approach right now.  May my first call for help always be to You.  May You, and nothing else from which I have ever tried to get strength, be my refuge.  In the name of Jesus, Who has cleared the way for me to come freely to You, I pray.  Amen.


Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Enjoying Joy

January 7 (Ecclesiastes 2:26)


For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy….  (ESV)


Everyone experiences sadness, and even Jesus wept, but those who follow Christ do not need to stay there.  In fact, to disregard the gift of joy is, well…consider the parable of the talents that Jesus told in Matthew 25.  Jesus made it clear that God expects His people to use the gifts He has given them.  We usually talk about this in the context of making full use of talents and abilities in the service of others, but this applies to all gifts, including the gift of joy.

One of the easiest things to do is complain.  How often do you get drawn into gripe sessions at work?  How often do you huff and puff about mundane responsibilities around the house?  How often is your casual conversation filled with criticism about this, that, and the other thing?  There is indeed much in the world that is wrong, and acknowledging it is often a first step to doing something about it.  Yet going about your daily life mired in the complaints of the world?  Not only does that make for a less than attractive witness to the Christian life, but it also cheats you of the pleasure of one of God’s gifts to you.

I whistle.  I love to whistle.  In fact, I can frequently be heard at work whistling a song, and when I am in the car or at home, well then it is time for full-throated singing!  How do you unwrap God’s gift of joy?  How do you play with it?  Enjoying joy is one of the most delightful things we can do, and since joy is a gift from God, we are actually called to make use of it.


Lord, thank You for the joy You have put in my heart!  I will sail it like a kite full of praises to You and wield it like a sword against the darkness that seeks to overwhelm me.  In those moments when I cannot find joy, uncover it for me so that it may blaze forth in me and to those I meet.  In the name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.


Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Who Was And Is And Is To Come

December 31 (Revelation 4:8)


“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”  (ESV)


On the last day of the year, it is normal to think about what was, what is, and what is to come.  All three can lead to both positive and negative thoughts as we mull over achievements and failures, goals and disappointments, and our mood is largely determined by which ones tip the scales.

Now ponder a bit something on a cosmic scale, a transcendent truth.  Jesus Christ, Who was born on earth as a fully human baby, is also God, of Whom alone it can be said that He was and is and is to come.  This eternally existing triune deity existed in the past and therefore created everything, including you.  He exists at this moment and is with you whether your mood is dark or hopeful.  And He is coming again.

My friends, I don’t care what your plans are for the new year, and I certainly have some exciting ones myself, there is nothing, nothing that compares with the fact that He is coming again.  And He is that same God Who has existed from everlasting.  He is the same God so filled with love that He created reality and peopled it with creatures made in His image to enjoy both it and Him.  He is the same God Who so loved that very world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but would have eternal life.  Now there is something to get excited about in the New Year!


Lord, may my eyes be steadfastly fixed on You, for You have been with me all the days of my life, are with me even now, and have promised to return to bring me into Your glory.  I enter this new year clutching firmly to the truth of Who You are.  In the name of my Savior, Jesus, amen.



Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Why Christmas Is A Day Of Joy

December 24 (Psalm 30:5)


Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.  (ESV)


Tomorrow is Christmas Day.  Popular songs, to say nothing of experience, tell us that children will find it hard to sleep as they anticipate the gifts and pleasures to come.  Guess what?  That should be you, too.  Tomorrow may include travel and family and cooking.  It may involve gifts and laughter and lights.  Yet tomorrow is so much more than all that, and the merest thought of it should keep you awake with excited anticipation, for you see, joy comes with the morning.

Tomorrow is the day when the world acknowledges the birth of God in the flesh.  To be sure, many of the world’s celebrations are misguided, and many who celebrate do not know God as anything other than a word of profanity to be invoked when they want to condemn something.  Yet celebrations will take place, and whether those who celebrate fully understand it or not, it is because of unspeakable joy.

We humans wrecked everything in the Garden of Eden and have continued to make a mess of things ever since, hence the weeping.  God looked into that mess with the eyes of love and sent us His Son to comfort us, to guide and support us, and to redeem us with His blood.  So get excited!  But not with visions of sugarplums dancing in your head, but with the image of Jesus Christ, born to die so that YOU could truly live.

What joy, Lord, it truly is to think about the life, death, and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus!  In my celebration of Christmas with family and friends, may that joy, the joy that comes with a life redeemed by Him, radiate from all that I do.  Thank You, Father, for the greatest gift of all!  Amen.


Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 17, 2017

When Jesus Speaks Your Name

December 17  (Revelation 3:5)


The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.  (ESV)


What do you want this Christmas?  And don’t say, “Peace on earth,” or some other answer that you think sounds appropriate for a Christian.  Seriously, what do you want?  When I read this verse recently, I was overcome with how much I want this.  I want to hear Jesus speak my name to God our Father and to stand before Him in a white garment that shows I am one of His own.

Every day we face the temptation to turn away from Jesus.  We are tempted to try life on our own rather than relying on His provision.  We may even be tempted to reject Him outright, whether through fear of embarrassment around others or in a fit of pique because we think He has not done for us what we need or want.  The one who conquers is the one who stays true to the end, the one who clings to Jesus faithfully rain or shine, through thick or thin.

And what a reward is waiting for that person!  Try to picture it.  There you are, clothed in white.  You are trembling with nervous excitement.  Your faith convinces you that this moment is going to happen, but still, you want and need to hear those words.  Jesus looks at you with a smile and turns toward the Father.  “I want to present to You one who has known me for a long time,” He announces.  And then He says your name.


O Jesus, I long for You to announce my name to our Father!  I want more than anything to be found faithful and true.  When I grow weak, make me strong.  When I stumble, please pick me up.  Help me to run my race and fight my fight with the victory that can only be found in You.  Amen.


Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Christ's Changing Of Life

December 10 (Hebrews 12:3)


Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.  (ESV)


Why does nearly every store and business you enter have decorations at this time of year?  It is because the birth of Jesus Christ changed everything.  Not one aspect of life remained the same after God took on flesh and walked among us.  The stores and businesses may treat this season as a time to make more money or simply to engage in culturally expected celebrations, but Christians know that, with all sentimentality laid aside, this season is about acknowledging the fundamental change in reality that came with the birth of Jesus.

Read this verse from Hebrews.  Jesus took incredible abuse from his own people and from foreigners alike.  He was mocked and rejected.  He was thought to be a liar and a charlatan.  He was beaten, subjected to injustice in the name of the law, and was executed.  Now, apart from securing eternal life for those who accept Him, He also endured all that to change how we handle adversity.

Everyone has something to complain about.  We all have reasons to be angry and upset.  Yet the follower of Jesus has an even better reason not to give in.  Our brother, our friend, and our Lord suffered even more, and when we do endure hardships for doing what is right, we can take comfort in knowing that we are, if in a very small way, imitating Him.

Lord, may my celebrations this Advent and Christmas be filled with the joy that can only come from realizing all You have done.  You have transformed my life and the very nature of what human life can be, both on earth and in the world to come.  May every interaction I have with others bear witness to this amazing and wonderful truth.  Amen.


Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Reminders Of God's Provision

December 3 (Philippians 4:19)


And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  (ESV)


I recently highlighted this among some of my favorite verses in the Bible about God’s provision, and then I stopped to realize yet another way God provides for us.  Have you ever considered just how many verses there are about God’s provision in scripture?  The mere fact of the number of times God has spoken about His care for us is but one more instance of that very care and concern, for He does not want us to worry.

Has God promised provision for our physical needs?  Yes, He has (see Matthew 6:31-33).  Has He promised to care for our emotional needs?  Yes, He has (see Psalm 30:5).  Has He promised to care for the state of our souls?  Yes, He has (see Romans 6:23).  Yet pull back from all this just a bit and see that He has also provided so that you do not have to question or worry about His provision by stating over and over again in the words of scripture that He will, in actual fact, take care of you.

Now, here’s the thing.  Our Father knows His children and He knows full well that we are going to worry and fret.  We do not need to, but we will, and that is why He reassures us.  If there is one thing we must do, it is to read the Bible, not just for knowledge, but to take hold of the great promises and comfort of God.  If we do not, it is like ignoring one of the best gifts under the tree as we bustle about, upset by the all the wrapping paper that litters the floor.


Father, thank You not only for Your amazing provisions, both for this life and the next, but thank You for reminding me so often of Your care for me in the words of scripture.  May those words, Your words, sink into my heart and mind, coloring everything I see in the world.  In the name of Jesus, Who made the promise of life a reality, amen.



Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins