Sunday, September 25, 2011

September 25 (1 Samuel 8:22)

And the LORD said to Samuel, “Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king.” (KJV)

The people of Israel wanted a king. God said no. He instructed them to have judges, for He knew that a king was likely to become tyrannical. The people of Israel asked for a king. All the nations around them had kings. God said no. He had just led His people out of the land of Pharaoh, an oppressive ruler, and He did not want this for His beloved children. The people of Israel demanded a king, and God told Samuel to make them one.

What is going on in this story? Is this about badgering God until you finally get your way? Does it depict God as some kind of pushover? This is one of the most horrific and terrifying stories ever told, and today’s verse contains perhaps the most frightening words in the Bible. This story shows that when people are determined to rebel against God, He will let them.

Our loving Father knows what is best for us. He created us, knows all things, and loves us enough to let His Son die for us. If, however, we say that we do not want His gifts and reject His will for our lives, He will not use His mighty power to make us do what is right. He will simply let us go.

O Lord, my God, do not give me over to my worst impulses. Save me from myself. Help me to trust Your good and perfect will and to follow You all the days of my life. In the name of Jesus, Who was obedient even to the point of death, I pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 18 (Leviticus 20:23)

And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. (KJV)

Christians work at gas stations, banks, and schools. We cheat, get divorced, and abuse alcohol. Some of us drive trucks, while others drive minivans. We use cell phones and drugs. In short, there are those who call themselves Christians who do the same things, good and bad, that everyone else in our culture does.

Where do you draw the line? Most of us enjoy our communities. I love the city and state where we live, and I am quite happy to be an American. Because I enjoy my communities, the large and the small, it is easy for me to think that the patterns of life in those communities are good. It becomes natural for me to think, act, and speak like those around me.

God reminds us in this verse that the ways of life of our workplace, our neighborhood, and our country are not the ways of life for those who follow Him. He has called us to be salt and light in the world (see Matthew 5:13-14). We must stop every so often to examine our lives. Are we representatives of God in the world, or are we indistinguishable from it?

Father in heaven, forgive me when I begin to adopt the easy ways of the world around me. Strengthen me for the life of Christian faith that calls me to walk against the ways of the world rather than with them. Help me to be the salt and light You have called me to be. In the name of Jesus, my Savior, I pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11 (Psalm 33:12)

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. (KJV)

Today is a day for remembering. It is a time to recall heart-wrenching tragedy and loss along with heroic deeds. It is a time to tell stories of those who pressed on in the face of overwhelming grief and fear not only to continue living, but to forge a new life.

It is also a time to remember the events of September 11, 2001.

While the worst attack on this country in a generation and the heroism that followed demand our remembrance this day, even those events do not supersede the crucifixion of Christ Jesus and the faith that was forged by His followers. No genocide, no act of terror was worse than what your sin and mine did in causing the death of Christ. No deeds of bravery have produced more change in the world than those of the first disciples. As we honor the fallen and the heroes of 9/11, we must never forget that their stories and ours are part of a much larger story whose most significant chapter was written at Calvary.

Lord, we praise You in the midst of painful remembrance. As we recall horrific and heroic acts, may we see everything through the light of our Savior, Christ Jesus. Help those who follow You be lights themselves for Christ throughout our nation, that we might become a nation whose God is the Lord. In the name of the risen Christ we pray, amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 4, 2011

September 4 (Matthew 6:33)

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (KJV)

Death. The economy. Job insecurity. Relationship difficulties. In which of these areas are you facing struggles? In which of these areas are you facing multiple struggles? As I think about my friends, family, and even my own life, I see that we all face challenges most of the time. There comes a point where we have to say with Scotty in the old Star Trek show that we just cannot give the engines any more.

Jesus knew this. He knew in the first century that we in the twenty-first would suffer the same challenges and difficulties that His friends and family were facing, and He gave us amazingly simply help. Look away. Stop looking at all that threatens you and turn your gaze upon God. Do not look seek a way out of difficulty and challenge, but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. It is amazing what this change of perspective accomplishes.

Is this not being irresponsible? It is actually both responsible and irresponsible. It is responsible to the only One to Whom we owe a response and irresponsible to what should at best have a secondary claim on our lives. It is a proper ordering, or for most of us a re-ordering, of our lives.

O Lord, my God, black thunderclouds sit on the horizon and threaten to overwhelm me. Turn my eyes from the storm to the One Who is light from light, true God from true God, my own savior Jesus Christ. Help me to seek Your kingdom and righteousness, confident that You will supply all that I need. In the name of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins