Sunday, October 31, 2010

October 31 (1 Samuel 24:4)

The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD's anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD. (NIV)

What heinous act had David committed against King Saul that he should immediately ask the Lord’s forgiveness? Had he poisoned the king’s wine or orchestrated an assassination plot? These would certainly have been understandable, given that Saul himself was trying to kill David and David had already been anointed as Saul’s successor. The outrageous offense that David had committed against the honor of the king and for which he immediately repented was…

He had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

How often in our over-worked, over-stressed, over-exhausted age do we look to complaining against the boss or the powers that be as an outlet? We slice and dice those who are over us for each policy with which we disagree and for every decision that we know we would have made differently. One of the most difficult things for us to understand is how to live under unjust, or simply incompetent, authority.

It is especially difficult for those who live in a republic founded on the rights of the people to change their leaders. We are indeed grateful to live in such a land and we must work within the framework of law and government to install the best leaders we can. Yet when we have done all that we should and our leaders still disappoint us, then we must ask for the grace of humble obedience. This flies in the face of our natural will, yet David, and his greatest descendant Jesus, who submitted even to the injustice of the cross, show us that it can be done.

Lord, help me to control my tongue and my actions. Help me to submit faithfully to the authorities that are over me, taking comfort that my life rests not in their hands, but in Yours, my loving Father. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray, amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October 24 (Psalm 18:17)

He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. (NIV)

A pastor at our church once used the expression, “confessing theist, practical atheist.” The phrase struck me because it seemed, painfully, to describe me. I am not just a confessing theist. I am a confessing Christian. I joyfully proclaim the truths of the Christian faith grounded in the lordship of our crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit reigns eternally as one God. Does my life, however, reflect my words?

I am a do-it-yourself kind of guy. I am hard charging and enjoy tackling multiple responsibilities and seeing them through to completion. Yet when my powerful enemies and foes mount their attack, my preferred response is to dig down deeper into my own strength and battle them on my own. If God plays little role in my moments of stress, pressure, and difficulty, I have to ask. Is mine a practical atheism?

David, who would become king of Israel and was known as a man after God’s own heart, was not too proud to admit that he had enemies stronger than he. Because of his humility, he could enjoy God’s grace. Where in your life is pride blocking God’s grace?

Lord, I thank You for how You have made me. I truly enjoy the gifts with which You have blessed me to live my life and fulfill Your calling. Help me not to take such pride in those gifts that I miss what is even greater, You. In the name of Christ Jesus, my Lord, amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October 19 (Philippians 3:10)

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…. (NIV)

While many of our brothers and sisters in Christ will indeed share in Christ’s sufferings, even to the point of torture and death, the vast majority of Christians in the West do not face physical suffering for the faith. How, then, can we join Paul in pursuing this kind of Christ-likeness?

We turn the channel when there are inappropriate images that prompt us to sin. We refuse to allow our children to watch inappropriate shows or play inappropriate games. We do not hesitate to speak the truth in love on social issues of our day. We let our light shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven. (See Matthew 5:16.)
Make no mistake. Ours is not a culture that supports this kind of life. Temptation lurks on every channel. Our children will be mocked. Our friends and co-workers will become angry with us, and it is not impossible that we will lose our jobs. Faced with such consequences, are you ready to say with Paul that you want to know Christ by sharing in His sufferings and becoming like Him in death?

Lord, grant me courage to be the Christian You have graciously called me to be. It is not easy where I live, but I know You will grant me the grace and strength to be salt and light. Help me to bear well my sufferings for the name of my Lord Jesus. In His name I pray, amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October 12 (1 Samuel 16:7)

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. (NIV)

We are accustomed to reading this verse and thinking about others. We know that we cannot tell what is really going on with a person simply by looking at his or her outward appearance. Try applying it to yourself, however, and this verse might have a different feel.

God does not pay one bit of attention to the size of the Bible we carry. He does not care about the mere fact of our attendance at church activities. For that matter, He is not all that impressed with any of the great things we do. After all, He gave us the abilities to do everything that we do, from picking up a pencil to launching a rocket. God, as He sees through all our outward appearances and activities, looks directly into our hearts and sees our motives. He knows our thoughts and intentions.

Well. Ahem. Okay then. Suddenly this verse becomes a bit uncomfortable. A Sunday School teacher of mine used to say that you cannot con God. He knows exactly what is going on in our hearts. So take a look. Ruthlessly apply His holy and perfect standard to all that you think and do. When, not if, but when you fail to measure up, know that God already knows. Do not try to hide it, but confess your less than pure motives. He is faithful not only to forgive, but to guide you back on the path of becoming more like Christ.

Lord, I do not always want to look into my heart, for I fear what I will find. Grant me the courage to see what You see and to bring everything before You. Transform me into the likeness of Your Son, my Lord Jesus. In His name I pray, amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October 5 (Philippians 3:20)

But our citizenship is in heaven. (NIV)

I recently had the opportunity to talk with a teenage boy about some rather serious matters. He is in the ROTC at his school and comes from a military family that has seen his older brother killed two years ago in Iraq. He wanted to talk with me about issues of war, and he began the conversation by saying he thought he knew where I stood politically. I replied that the more important thing for me than my political views is the fact that I am a Christian and that this, more than anything, shapes my views.

Examine your own beliefs, as evidenced by how you actually live your life. Among the various identities we have…Republican, Democrat, American, alum of a certain university, man, woman, older, younger, particular ethnicity, Christian…which one really shapes those beliefs and guides your life? It is easy to associate our Christian faith with other ideologies until we are convinced that thinking along those lines is to think as a Christian.

Paul puts it bluntly in his letter to the Philippians. We may pay taxes to the United States government and alumni dues to a particular university, but our true identity lies with Christ Jesus in heaven. This over all must direct everything we do, say, and think, from our most significant to our most momentous decisions.

Gracious Father, I am Yours by the blood of my Lord, Jesus Christ. May my status as Your redeemed servant direct all that I do, to the glory of Your holy name. Amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins