Sunday, September 26, 2010

September 26 (Acts 19:26, Acts 2:13, Matthew 26:74)

You see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. (NIV)

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” (NIV)

Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don't know the man!” (NIV)

There is much trouble and scandal among Christians today, just as there has always been. Some of it is based on the truth, and we would not change it if we could. Just as Paul was attacked for speaking the truth about the false gods of the ancient world, so many Christians today are persecuted for speaking the truth about Christianity over religions such as Islam. Sometimes the accusations are false, as when Peter corrected the crowd at Pentecost. Accusations against Christians are not true simply because the mainstream media makes them. Finally, there has been and always will be trouble among Christians because Christians have actually fallen. Peter himself denied Christ with an oath and a curse. It truly does not get worse than that for a Christian scandal.

Yet none of this…not the accusations, not the scandals…has one bit of bearing on Christ Jesus. He remains what He has been since before the foundation of the world, God. He is the Savior for all who would accept His grace. This includes those who have misunderstood the Christian faith, those who have falsely accused Christians, and those Christians who have themselves strayed from the straight and narrow path. Despite the vagaries of the world, which will continue as they always have until our Lord returns, God remains faithful.

Lord, help me not to be swayed by all the trouble inside and outside the Church. Help me to speak truth when others are swayed and begin to doubt or slander You. May I always cling fast to the cross of Christ, for in Him I live and move and have my being. Amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 19, 2010

September 19 (2 Timothy 3:12)

…everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (NIV)

It really does not get much more direct than this. If you follow Jesus, you will know the blessings of peace and comfort, strength to accomplish all that God sets before you, and the promise of eternal life with Him. Yet there will be areas and times of your life that will be worse than if you did not follow Him. To this day, people are arrested and murdered, have their homes and property destroyed, and lose their jobs and family members because they follow Jesus. For these people, none of this would have happened had they rejected Him.

It is easy for us who live in the lap of luxury to forget this or to romanticize it away, and make no mistake, if you are have four walls and a roof and food to eat, you are living in luxury compared with much of the world. When I think of what Paul suffered, which led to his advice to Timothy, I am embarrassed at how shallow some of my prayer concerns are.

The verse today should remind us of two things. We must live our lives passionately enough for Christ that it produces suffering for us. This is not to say we should become false martyrs, but if our faith is only a matter of convenience, then is it really the faith of our crucified Lord? Secondly, we must draw attention to, pray for, and assist however we can those brothers and sisters in Christ who live with the more violent persecutions. As Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40, NIV)

Father, whether it is the sacrifice of time, money, or friendships, whether it is the loss of respect or even my job, help me to live my life in bold faithfulness to Christ, for indeed there is no other kind. Amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September 12 (2 Chronicles 20:3)

And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. (NIV)

There is much to learn from this one verse about the life of King Jehoshaphat. A large enemy comprised of many tribes had come to attack, and the first thing we read is that the king was afraid. Of course he was afraid! Pretending that you are not afraid when the bills pile up, when sickness strikes, when one more thing goes wrong with the car is not courage, but self-deception. As Christians, we know that we are not supposed to lie, and this includes to ourselves.

So what did this king do? He turned to God. Talk of turning to God in times of trouble is so common among Christians that we end up ignoring it. Slow down for a moment and consider. This king did not first call his war council. He did not make plans for attack, review his troops, or charge blindly into war. The first thing he did when confronted by more than he could handle was to go to the Lord. We must do more than pay lip service to this. We are not going to the Lord when we throw out a quick prayer in the midst of doing what we had already determined to do, and this is where the fast comes in. By ordering a fast for all of Judah, King Jehoshaphat caused everyone to slow down and wait for the guidance of God.

What are you facing this week? However frightful or nerve-wracking you claim it is, is it frightful or nerve-wracking enough for you to be quiet…really quiet…and wait for the guidance and blessing of God?

Father, You know what awaits me more clearly than I do. Still my heart, my mind, and my hands. Lead me into humble quietness that I may hear Your plans for me. Grant me then the quickness to fulfill Your will. In the name of Lord Jesus, Who reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 5, 2010

September 5 (Exodus 33:19-20)

And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. … But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” (NIV)

Thanks to the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we can call God “Father.” We have the gift of eternal life with Him and are counted as brothers and sisters of Jesus Himself, Who calls us His friends. What extraordinarily intimate gifts! Yet we must never for one moment forget that God remains awesome and terrible.

On Mt. Sinai, Moses asked to see the glory of the Lord. God responded by saying that Moses could see His goodness and hear the divine name, but He warned him as well that there were parts of His nature that must remained hidden. How do we relate to a God Who calls us His friends and children and yet remains One before Whom we must live in reverent fear? (See 1 Peter 1:17)

We must be intimate with our Father, while never forgetting He is our Lord. We must go to Him in the moment of our needs, yet never address Him casually or with disrespect. We must approach our God with confidence in His faithfulness, yet humbly in acknowledgment of our weakness and His surpassing glory.

Almighty and glorious heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of being able to approach You any time, day or night, in any circumstance, through the intercession of Jesus Christ. Thank You, too, for the gift of Your Holy Spirit, Who intercedes when we lack even the words to speak. May my life be one of ongoing worship of Your majesty and grace. Truly, You are my Lord and my God. Amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins