Sunday, August 29, 2010

August 29 (Ephesians 2:8)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (NIV)

The mere fact that you believe in God, believing and accepting the saving grace of our Lord Jesus, is a gift from God. Think about that for a moment. You may have studied and read much about the Christian faith. You may have analyzed the arguments for and against its truths. Yet the ability to believe at all is a gift.

We do not know fully why God hardened the heart of Pharaoh. We do not know why some have the gift of faith and yet choose to reject it. For those who have it, however, and have chosen to use it, there can be only one response. It is sheer, absolute, overwhelming, humble gratitude. There is no room for spiritual pride among the followers of Christ. When we come to terms with the fact that our lives in all their full richness, both now and in the world to come, are the result of pure grace, our hearts burst with the desire to praise and thank the Giver of this grace.

We should be grateful for all the blessings of our lives. When was the last time you thanked God for your faith itself?

Father, I do not know why you have granted me the ability to believe, but I thank You from the bottom of my heart. Thank You, too, for all those You have put in my path to teach and lead me ever closer to You. May I serve likewise in the lives of those around me. In the name of Christ Jesus, my Lord, amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 22 (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. (NIV)

“It is my body, so I can do what I want with it. “It is my life, so let me do what I want to do.” Sound familiar? We hear these statements all the time from the halls of our schools to the corridors of government, from the nightly news to the so-called news of the entertainment world. The Christian response to any such statement is, “No, it is not.”

It is not your body and it is not your life. Life is a gift wrapped in a loaner package. Every breath we draw and the tiniest hair on our heads belong to God, whether or not we follow Christ. For those who do claim to follow Him, there is the addition of the Holy Spirit, Who transforms the gift and life we have from God into His very temple on earth.

So what are you doing with the temple of God that you actually are? Has it become a billboard to flaunt your sexuality in the way that you dress? Has it become the local dump where you toss fat- and calorie-laden junk made of high fructose corn syrup? Is it a place from which flows the love and grace of Christ? Is it a source of truth and love among those in its neighborhood?

Father, I am grateful indeed for the gift of life and the gift of the body that I have. Forgive me for the many times when I used these gifts for nothing more than my own pleasure and at times even for the intentional pain of others. May Your Holy Spirit flow from me in all that I do, say, and think. In the name of Christ Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, August 15, 2010

August 15 (Matthew 6:10)

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (NIV)

For many Christians, this is a prayer of request for blessing. We are suffering in a particular way and are sure that this must not be the will of God, Who we are sure would want us to enjoy only a smooth, comfortable life. Therefore, we pray that His will be done, for in this we are confident that our situation will improve.

St. Cyprian, a third century Christian leader and writer, saw it a bit differently. He wrote that we do not pray for God to do what He wants, but that we may be able to do what God wants, for he rightly points out that no one can block the will of God. We, however, are often blocked by Satan and our own sinful nature. We need divine assistance to do what God would have us do. When we pray for the will of God to be done on earth as in heaven, we are praying that God will grant us the grace to be like angels, who without hesitation do His bidding. We are praying for the grace to be like Christ Himself, Who was obedient to the will of our Father to the point of death.

Father, forgive me when I have treated the riches of Your blessing as a storehouse of magical cures for whatever ails me. Help to focus not on my own sufferings, but on You and Your perfect will. May Your will be done through me, a ready and willing vessel made in Your image and purified through the blood of the Lamb for accomplishing Your good works. Amen.
Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, August 8, 2010

August 8 (2 Corinthians 7:1)

Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (NIV)

I still wear my Vacation Bible School shirt from earlier in the summer, and when I do, I am quite conscious of it. I am aware that when I go out for a burger or to the home improvement store, I am wearing a shirt that has the name of my church on it, one that advertises my faith. I would like to think that I would act the same no matter what I wore, but I am keenly focused on my behavior when wearing that VBS shirt. Paul says we should think like this all the time.

We do not hear a lot of talk about holiness these days. It has become too associated with being holier-than-thou. Yet Paul teaches us that we must strive to perfect our holiness because we love and respect God, and he tells us how to do it. At the end of the preceding chapter of 2 Corinthians, he states bluntly that we are not to do what unbelievers do. We must purify body and spirit. We must not do what unbelievers do or think as unbelievers think. God makes a claim on every aspect of our lives.

So how do you look when you go out in public? Do you behave, talk, and think as a Christian? How do you look in the privacy of your home? Do you behave, talk, and think as a Christian? How do you look when there is no other human being around? Do you behave, talk, and think as a Christian?

Gracious Father, I stand convicted for not living the holy life to which You have called me. Too often I surrender to my base emotions. I ask forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ and call upon Your grace through Him that by the power of the Holy Spirit I may live a holy life in honor of You. Amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August 1 (Mark 1:35-37)

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” (NIV)

Do you ever feel as if everyone is looking for you? You have responsibilities to your boss, to your spouse, to your children, to your extended family, to your friends, to your church, to your bill collectors…where does it end? All of those are important responsibilities, too. They are good responsibilities, and we must meet them well.

Yet not one, not one of them, is more important than the work that Jesus came to do. It does not matter who is waiting for that report at work or who has left that voice message demanding a call back. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Nothing we have to do trumps that.

So what did Jesus do when everyone was demanding a piece of Him? He arose early, before the work of the day got started, and prayed. We all go through seasons of greater or lesser spiritual devotion. We need to be reminded every so often that this time of prayer and being with God is invaluable. To put it bluntly, Jesus had more important things to do than you ever will, yet He set aside time for His Father. Will you?

Father, I have grown lax in my relationship with You. It is easy for me to drift into other things, things I think are pressing and demand my attention. Help me to put every aspect of my life into a proper perspective, beginning with You at the center. Grant me the grace to discipline my life by spending time with You. In Christ, my Lord, I pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins