Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 30 (2 Corinthians 4:6)

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (KJV)

This is an amazing verse. The very One Who created the light of the universe, the same God of Genesis 1:3 who spoke light into existence, shines in our hearts so that we may know Him.

So why do we not spend more time in those secret chambers of our hearts, dwelling with our Lord in His radiant grace? Why, when we are tired, do we prefer to dwell in the dimness of so-called reality television? Why, when we are worried, do we prefer to seek avoidance in a flurry of activity, or what is worse, in addictive substances? Why, when the pressures of life are upon us, do we go anywhere other than to our Lord, Who has chosen to dwell within us through the Holy Spirit?

This verse, which can provide incredible comfort, is also a challenge to our faith. We may read the Bible, go to church, and give mental assent to the proposition that Jesus is Lord, but do we really believe it? If we really believe that God has chosen to dwell with and within us, then why would we not want to spend more time in quiet, secluded joy with Him?

Lord, you have given me a birthright through the adoption of my baptism. Forgive me for all the times I have exchanged it for anything less. Restore to me the joy of my salvation, and teach me to dwell in Your courts forever. In the name of Christ Jesus, my Lord, amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 23 (Psalm 18:43-44)

Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me.  As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.  (KJV)

Many of the Psalms contain a double meaning.  A large number come out of the experiences of David, but many also are prophetic about the life of Jesus.  It is easy to see the verses for today as among the prophecies obviously fulfilled in Christ.  Jesus is indeed the head of all creation, and people who were not alive in His time serve Him today.  Indeed, strangers submit themselves to Him, for there was no such thing as an American, an Australian, or a Canadian in the modern sense during the 1st century.

So, if this passage is about Jesus, then do we make our Lord a liar on a daily basis?  It also says, “As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me.”  How often do we hear a message at church, in the Bible, or from some other source and know that God is calling us to do a particular thing?  When that happens, do we obey at once, or do we put it on the back burner?  Do we weigh the pros and cons?  Do we think about how to get out of it?  Do we ignore the call completely?

When Jesus called Matthew from his tax-collecting table, the man left his job at once and followed.  When our Lord called James and John, they left their father in the middle of their work and followed.  God does not offer us propositions to consider.  He makes calls upon our lives.  Anything less than immediate acceptance is a refusal.

O Lord, my God, weaken my ties with the world as You strengthen my identity in You.  When You speak, may I speak.  When I speak, may it be with Your words.  May my life be one of such utter obedience that anyone who sees me, sees You.  In the name of my Lord, Jesus, Who was obedient even unto death on a cross, amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 16 (Isaiah 5:20)

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (KJV)

Where does one go to know what is right and what is wrong? If you listen to any voice that comes from within our culture, it will tell you to listen to your own voice. Yet if I were honest, I would have to admit that many of the things God calls good, I prefer not to do, and what He calls bad are pleasing to me. Now if, after having listened to my own voice on such matters, I go back to the culture around me, I will find many voices willing to encourage me in my sins. In fact, a quick listen to any of the nightly news shows, a quick glance at the newspaper or Internet, followed by even the briefest of looks at the Bible will reveal that our age proudly calls evil good and good evil.

There can be no switching of one for the other. Good and evil are what God says they are in His eternal word, and no legislation of man or Madison Avenue spin or Hollywood advocacy can make it otherwise. Good and evil, light and darkness, right and wrong are not subjective issues open to interpretation. They are rooted in the unchanging Truth Who is Jesus Christ, communicated through the words of Scripture and taught by the Church, the body of Christ on earth, for two thousand years. Woe, says the prophet Isaiah, to anyone who would try to confuse such matters.

Where are you and I guilty of this? Do we try to excuse our pet sins as really okay based on the false gospel that God wants me to be happy? Do we go along with false ideas in our culture because we do not want to seem intolerant? Just how far have we drifted from our Lord and His teachings?

Father, forgive me when I try to persuade myself or others that good is really bad, or bad is really good. Help me to know deeply the truth of right and wrong and to follow it at all costs, no matter how unpleasant. In the name of my Lord Jesus, Who suffered the evil of the cross for the ultimate good, amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January 9 (Psalm 31:22)

For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee. (KJV)
The Greek word translated “haste” in the King James Version of this verse can indicate being out of one’s mind. Indeed, one would have to be out of his mind to think that God does not see him, for God sees everything. Yet we all suffer this type of insanity from time to time. It is easy, whether in times of great tragedy or even in moments of mere temporary displeasure and dissatisfaction, to think that God is not with us. Perhaps it is because of our haste. We hurry from this to that, becoming so consumed in our agendas that we begin to believe that the only reality is what is in front of our eyes at the moment.

Yet even in his own time of insanity, David had the presence of mind to call out to God, and God heard him. We must cry out to our Lord when all seems dark and everything seems stacked against us. When we cannot see or feel the presence of our loving Father, we must hurl our prayers and supplications into the darkness. This is the essence of faith. Although we do not see Him, God sees us. Although we do not feel Him, He touches us with His Holy Spirit and is as close as the inner chambers of our hearts.

Father, I cry out to you, for I am beset by many problems and fears. To You they are as nothing, but to me they threaten to overwhelm my life. I do not even know where to begin listing all that confronts me. Look into my life and see what is there. Guide me through what lies ahead and keep me faithful to You, my Lord and my God, in all circumstances. In the name of Christ Jesus, my Lord, amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, January 2, 2011

January 2 (Colossians 1:11)

Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness… (KJV)*

Paul prayed a mighty prayer at the beginning of his letter to the Colossians, one that would serve us all well to pray at the beginning of this new year. The first part is obvious. Who among us does not need to be strengthened after the hustle and bustle of Christmas and as we look toward all that the coming year holds? What is interesting in Paul’s prayer is how we are to come by that strength and to what end.

In and of ourselves, we are weak, no matter how well we eat or how much exercise we do. Paul prays for the Colossians to be strengthened according to the power of God. It is His strength that truly makes us strong. Notice, too, the purpose of having this strength. It is not to have enough energy to accomplish all that is on our own to-do list. It is so that we may be patient and longsuffering. Paul knew that the Colossians would have much to suffer as followers of Christ. So do we. The world is increasingly hostile to Christians. Even in the land of the free, it is a challenge to practice the faith openly.

Pay attention to the end of this prayer as well. We pray for the power of God to make us strong so that we may be able to endure all that comes our way, and then we see it. We are praying for all of this with joy. We will all endure hardships this coming year. The goal for the Christian is not to avoid them, but to bear up under them with joy. In this way those around us will see the true power of God in our lives and be drawn to Him.

Gracious Father, strengthen me with Your power that I may endure all that comes my way this year with joy. May Your Spirit radiate through me and draw others to You. In the name of my strong, suffering Lord, Jesus Christ, amen.

*2011 marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible. It stands to this day as one of the greatest achievements of translation and a testament to the beauty of English.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins