Sunday, March 27, 2011

March 27 (Luke 9:23)

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (KJV)

The student council at the large public high school where I teach hosts Safe Decisions Week every year just before Spring Break. It is a week filled with posters and videos urging students not to drink while driving, not to take drugs, and to be sure to practice safe sex if engaging in sex at all. As good as the intentions are behind such a campaign, it is misguided on two levels. It presumes that the only reasons for not engaging in certain behaviors are the practical ones, e.g. you may die, you may get hurt, you may get pregnant. It also suggests, by emphasizing one week out of the year, that safe decisions are not something to think about the other 51 weeks.

The reason for not engaging in destructive behaviors is simply that they bring dishonor to God. By abusing our bodies, we abuse the temple of the Holy Spirit. To engage in premarital sex is to violate the will of God for our lives. These and many others are things we must think about not one week out of the year, not only as we make New Year’s resolutions, not only when we have a moment of conscience, but daily.

Make no mistake, following Jesus is a daily decision. We have been baptized once, but it is a daily choice to take up the cross of right living, the cross of rejection from society, the cross of humbly asking forgiveness for dropping the cross yesterday, and continuing to follow our Lord.

My Lord and my God, strengthen me to carry the cross that You have called me to bear. When I waver, hold me up and make me firm in my walk. If I stumble, help me to my feet. Grant me the grace necessary to bring You honor in all that I say, think, and do. In the name of Christ Jesus, Who bore the cross all the way to Calvary, amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 20 (Job 31:13-15)

If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me; what then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb? (KJV)

If the boss comes to us with an immediate request, we respond to it, well, immediately. But how often do we make friends or family members wait when they request something of us? Familiarity indeed breeds contempt.

Oh, it is not contempt, we argue. Surely that is too harsh a word. Yet what else can it be when we drop everything to serve some, but not all? If we treat some people differently from how we treat others, then, like it or not, some are more important to us and some count for less. And what shall we do when God rises up? When He comes again, what shall we answer Him? Did not He Who made us, make all?

Who in your life gets your best, the best of your time, the best of your efforts, the best of all that you have? Who gets the leftovers? If God asked you to explain the difference today, what answer would you give?

Father, You sent Your Son to be the first born among many brothers. Forgive me when I count anyone as more worthy of my time than another. Help me to view all equally and to pour forth freely to all what You have poured forth freely in me. In the name of Christ Jesus, my Lord, amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 13, 2011

March 13 (Psalm 103:3)

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; (KJV)

The previous verse of this psalm praised God for His blessings, and this verse continues the list. Those who suffer from disasters like the Japanese earthquake may wonder whether God truly does rescue us from destruction. While we may suffer many things that seek to destroy, from disease to natural calamities, there is a far greater destruction that threatens us all. Death.

In a land that knows row after row of pain relieving medicines and the greatest advancements in medical care, death is not the looming reality that it once was. On top of that, it is not in vogue for many Christians to talk about hellfire and brimstone. Yet it is just as much a reality as it ever was for the simple fact that you and I were born as fallen creatures into a fallen world. We deserve to die for our sins. This does not mean simply physical death. We deserve to spend eternity in horrific separation from God.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 6, 2011

March 6 (Psalm 103:2-3)

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; (KJV)

Yes, yes, I should praise God because of all the really great stuff He has done for me. My life is a lot better than so many whose pictures I see on the nightly news. I get it.

Hold on a minute. If this is our interpretation of Psalm 103:2, it is crucial that we read on to verse 3. In the list of blessings from God, many of which are material, David begins with forgiveness of sin and healing of soul sickness. No matter how great you and I think we are, and let’s face it, in the privacy of our minds, we think we are pretty hot stuff, we were born with a sin nature that has earned us eternal death. On top of that, from the hateful word snapped at a spouse to the truly dark iniquities, we have done and continue to do many things that would separate us from God.

Yet God has forgiven all that. Through the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, He reaches into the dark and secret recesses of our hearts and heals us. This is truly great news! Bless the Lord, o my soul!

Father, I operate too much on a superficial level in my relationship with You. Help me to see the deep work You have done and continue to do in my soul. Take me to those places in myself I would rather not see, that I may lay them before You and be healed. In the name of Christ Jesus, my Savior, amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins