Sunday, November 28, 2010

November 28 (Luke 1:46-47)

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (NIV)

With these words Mary begins what has come to be known as the Magnificat, a praising of God so glorious that it has been set to music throughout the ages and has found its way into the ranks of the greatest choral music. Yet Mary did not come up with these words of praise on her own. The words themselves and the themes of her praise are drawn from the words of Scripture.

“The Magnificat – a portrait, so to speak, of her soul – is entirely woven from threads of Holy Scripture, threads drawn from the word of God. Here we see how completely at home Mary is with the word of God, with ease she moves in and out of it. She speaks and thinks with the word of God; the word of God becomes her word, and her word issues from the word of God. Here we see how her thoughts are attuned to the thoughts of God, how her will is one with the will of God. Since Mary is completely imbued with the word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate”.

So wrote Pope Benedict XVI. As we move into Advent, the season that looks forward to the celebration of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus, it is natural that we desire to bring the best offerings of praise to God. Yet He Himself has already given us the greatest praise songs in the Psalms and other songs and poems of Scripture. Does that written word of God live in our hearts as it lived in the heart of Mary? Do the words of Scripture come to our lips with the immediacy they came to hers? During Advent, when the rush of year-end and holiday activities press all around, spend even more time in the words of God. Let them sink into your heart and become your flesh. Let them issue forth from your lips in the greatest praise for our Lord, Who deserves the best.

Lord, plant Your word deeper into my heart where it may grow into great hymns of praise. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. Amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 21, 2010

November 21 (John 6:26-27, 35)

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (NIV)

In the classic novel Dracula, the insane man Renfield escapes from his asylum to the home of the infamous vampire. His caretaker, Dr. Seward, overhears Renfield begging Dracula for certain gifts and remarks, “He thinks of the loaves and fishes even when he believes he is in a real Presence.” How very much like this insane character we all are!

God has given us His Son, Who in turn has given us the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within us. We live in the real Presence of God, and that Presence lives within us, yet we concern ourselves too often only with the food that spoils. In other words, we focus far too much on the matter at hand rather than taking the long view of our lives. Yes, we need our cars to run and we need jobs to pay our bills and we need good health to accomplish our many tasks. It is not wrong to pray over such things, but if this is where our life with God stops, then ours is a shallow relationship indeed.

Jesus is the bread of life. We are called to an eternal and personal relationship with the God of the universe. For just a moment, put aside the immediate cares pressing in on your thoughts. Almighty God is your Father! What does your heart cry out to say to Him? What is He calling you toward? He will provide loaves and fishes, but our relationship with Him should be about so much more.

Gracious Lord, You provide all my needs according to Your riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Help me to move beyond worrying only about my daily needs and see life as You have intended it, an eternal life with You. In the name of my Lord, Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November 14 (Psalm 85:8-9)

Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did. (NIV)

Why do we continue to test and try the Lord? It is easy in the depths of our despair to cry out to Him as if challenging Him, daring Him to help us. Time and again we slip into believing that God really does not love us or have our best interest at heart.

Yet if we look back on our own lives, we can see countless examples of His love and provision. If I were to detail all the ways in which I have seen God working in my life, your Internet provider would truncate this email. It is important for us to read the psalms and the Old Testament histories and the letters of Paul and the lives of the Christians who have gone before us to be reminded of all that God has done for our people. We also need to take stock regularly of what He has done for each of us.

Make it part of your spiritual discipline to praise God each day for something He has done in your life. It will strengthen your faith for the times of doubt.

Father, You have blessed me beyond measure. Forgive my lack of gratitude. May I never fall into the false belief that You do not love me. Strengthen my faith by helping me to recall all that You have done in my life. To You be the glory for all things, through Christ Jesus, my Lord. Amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November 7 (Psalm 147:11)

The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. (NIV)

How wonderful God’s love for me must be, since it is infinitely greater than the love I have for my own children, a love that daily threatens to burst my heart! I truly delight in our children. Whether it is their voices saying “Good-bye” and “I love you, Daddy” as I leave for work in the morning or their enthusiastic hugs that nearly knock me over when I return, I find myself constantly smiling around them and thanking God for the privilege of being a parent.

I am delighted when they share some wonderful new discovery with me, and I get to see with fresh eyes one of the glories of the created order. It delights me when our little girl asks for help with a stuck coat zipper and when our son performs some task that signals his ever-growing skills. I delight when I watch them play with their friends or when they play alone in their rooms or in the backyard. I delight to hear their spontaneous songs sung only to their stuffed animals and God. I delight to watch them sleep.

I repeat, how wonderful must the love of God be for me, a love that transcends all my human emotion for my own children!

Father, I love You and indeed put my hope in your unfailing love! May what I do with the life You have given me always bring delight to You. In the name of my Lord Jesus I pray, amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins