Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 27 (Psalm 31:24)

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. (KJV)
“I had nothin’ to live for, and look like nothing's gonna come my way. So I'm just gonna sit on the dock of the bay, watching the tide roll away.” Those of a certain age will recognize the lyrics of Otis Redding’s classic “Dock of the Bay.” If it comes on the radio, most people will turn it up, and everyone around will start singing along. It is a catchy tune.

Yet those are the lyrics of despair. They describe why teenagers and those with good jobs, a marriage, and children, and the elderly at times feel led to commit suicide. Despair is the absolute lack of hope. Everything seems bad at the moment, but what is worse, nothing good is on the horizon.

Christians no less than anyone can be attacked by despair. Satan would love us to believe that our situation is hopeless. Yet God, far from offering a greeting card sentimentality, calls us to strong hope. He tells us to be of good courage, to take heart, to live boldly. He promises to strengthen our hearts, hearts that we all know can be breeding grounds for doubts and fears. All this is for those who will risk defying the world and its depressing, despairing message to put their hope in the Lord, Who defied even death itself and rose victoriously to the life to which He now calls us.

O Lord, my God, I have chosen before to follow You wherever You lead, and I boldly make that choice again today. You are my God, my light and my life. I adore You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. I place my hope in Your unfailing love. Amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February 20 (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (KJV)

Confusion and chaos surround us. On the world stage, there are violent protests, brutal regimes, and the ever-present threat of nuclear war. On the national front, there are bitter disputes over healthcare, abortion, and the economy. At the local level, families struggle with rising gas prices, job security, and rearing children in a violent, dangerous, and pornographic culture. I have never been so uncertain about just about everything as I am at this time, and uncertainty breeds fear and stress. I simply do not know how to sort through all the issues that surround us. I do not know what to do.

And so it is that the words of this famous Proverb come to mind. I do not need to know how to deal with all that threatens those around me. The only thing about which I must be certain is the Lord my God. What deep comfort these words offer! Trust the Lord with all your heart, ever single fiber of your being. Trust Him with your worries and fears, your struggles and challenges. Stop trying to figure it all out yourself. Acknowledge His sovereignty in your job, your marriage, your family, your finances, your political concerns, your dreams for the future. The God Who is Truth has promised that He will direct your paths.

Lord, in the words of the old hymn, I surrender all to Thee, my blessed Savior. You know the burdens of my heart, even those I do not admit to myself. Take them, Lord. They are Yours. Guide me in the way of truth that I may walk pleasing and acceptable in Your sight. This only do I ask in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, February 13, 2011

February 13 (Psalm 24:1)

The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (KJV)

You belong to God, but not just because of your faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ leads you to eternal life with God, as opposed to living eternally apart from Him, but everything and everyone on the earth belong to Him simply because they are His creatures. Think about that for a moment. President Obama and your next-door neighbor belong to God. Your cousins belong to God, as do Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, and Nelson Mandela. Hugh Hefner and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad belong to God every bit as much as the lady who sits next to you at church and your child’s teacher at school.

You likely nodded your head in affirmation as you thought about some of those people. Of course the lady who sits next to you at church belongs to God. She is always so nice to ask how you are doing each week. At the same time, it might have bothered you to think that violent leaders and pornographers also belong to Him. How could they, given what they do?

We all belong to God by virtue of our having been created by Him. The most devout among us and the greatest of sinners all belong to God. How much, then, must God grieve when His creation goes astray? How much must God want His creation to turn to Him and accept His grace and love? How much must He want those who already have accepted the gift of life to share it with those who have not?

Father, it is too easy for me to look at others and think less of them because of their sinful actions. Forgive me my pride and so fill my heart with Your love that it flows out in word and deed to all around me. May everyone You put in my life come to bow to our Lord Jesus Christ, in Whose name I pray, amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, February 6, 2011

February 6 (Deuteronomy 30:6)

And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. (KJV)

We were made to love God, but we all know that we do not. Oh, we go through the motions and may at times even love Him in truth, but it is an effort and, quite frankly, loving God takes a back seat to a busy agenda. It is a nice idea to be Mary, but Martha is the name of the game.

We cannot love God as we were made to with the buildup of sin and daily distractions that gather around our heart. These must be cut away, circumcised, by God Himself before we can hope to love Him as we should. It is not just a matter of our own knuckling down and trying harder to be more disciplined with daily devotions. We must ask God to circumcise our hearts so that we can be free to love Him.

What is blocking your heart? Is it a particular sin that keeps cropping up? Is it the details of life or worries for the future? God already knows what is keeping you from Him. He wants you to ask Him for his help in drawing closer.

Father, there is almost nothing that cannot separate me from you when I let it. I am distracted by the tasks before me, by my desire for pleasure, by worries, by concerns, and by sin. Yet Paul promised that nothing in fact can separate us from Your love through Christ Jesus. Circumcise my heart, Lord, from all that prevents me from loving You as I should. Set me free so that, in You, I may truly live. In the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord, amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins