Sunday, October 30, 2011

October 30 (Luke 9:62)

And Jesus said unto him, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  (KJV)

There is only one God, Who has revealed Himself as Trinity.  This one God wants all of us…our thoughts, our words, and our deeds.  In the verse for day, we see that He wants us all the time.

Perseverance can be one of the most challenging aspects of being a Christian.  We think of Lot’s wife, who looked back at their home, despite being told not to do so.  We think of those disciples who followed Jesus only until His teachings became too hard for them (see John 6).  If you are reading this devotion, then you have put your hand to the plough to serve in the Kingdom of God and to follow Jesus.  What causes you to look back?  Is it fear or worry?  Are there temptations that are too enjoyable to give up?  Is it sickness, exhaustion, or just the daily grind?

God has not called us to a life that we cannot live.  If there are things that distract us from Him, He already knows what they are.  Ask Him to reveal those things to you so you can then surrender them to Him.  He will make you fit to the task of the persevering life in Christ.

Lord, I have such good intentions.  I want to do this or that for You, only to find myself distracted or falling back into old habits.  Help me to see nothing but You, Lord.  Give me the strength to live all of my life, every day, only for You.  In the name of Jesus, my Savior, Who persevered for my salvation all the way to Calvary, amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 23 (Mark 12:30)

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  (KJV)

Last week we looked at the exclusive nature of God, that there is only one God, and He has fully revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Should it come as any surprise that the one and only God wants all of us?

The people and organizations in our lives know that they must share us with others.  I want to give as much of myself as I can to my family, but during the hours of the workday, I am not giving directly to them.  They may benefit from my salary, but my boss has the right to claim my attention during those hours.  The same goes with the time I spend with friends, other relatives, and at the store talking with the clerk.  My time and attention are divided.

God says that when it comes to a relationship with Him, there can be no such divisions.  We are giving Him our heart, soul, mind, and strength in every circumstance.  He does not just get our attention during worship at church or during our private devotional time.  When I am working for my boss, I must do so in ways that please God.  When I am with friends and family, I am not away from God.  He wants all of me, and He wants me all of the time.

O Lord, forgive me for the times when I treat You as if You were merely another person in my life, one to whom I will give my attention when I can get around to it.  I want You to be my all in all.  Help me to give my all to You in everything that I do, say, and think.  In the name of Jesus, my Savior, I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, October 16, 2011

October 16 (Jeremiah 10:10a)

But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king.  (KJV)

Studies show that some people leave the Christian faith because of its exclusivity.  We live in a world that values all things, even when they are contradictory, and we are told to be tolerant of everything.  Churches that preach that the God of Christianity is the only God seem out of step with contemporary culture.

This is nothing new.  Those who follow God have always been out of step with their culture.  Ask the Jews in Babylon.  Ask the Christians in ancient Rome.  Ask the Coptic Christians in Egypt today.  That there is only one true God, revealed fully in Jesus Christ, is not something a fundamentalist church made up.  It is what the Bible teaches and Christians for two thousand years have acknowledged.

What is it about the Christian faith that is most uncomfortable to you?  Is it the mysterious nature of the Trinity, or the call to love your enemies?  Is it that there is only one true God, or that we must give our time and money to serve the poor?  Our faith will always be at odds with the world around us.  The call of Christ is a difficult one, but when you stop to think about it, would you want to follow anyone else?

O  Lord, help me to be strong in living out Your calling of me.  May I be a light to others, so that they may see Your truth.  May nothing about You be a stumbling block for me, but may I always be willing to follow You, even unto death.  In the name of my Savior Jesus, Who did just that for me, I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, October 9, 2011

October 9 (2 Timothy 1:7)

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  (KJV)

Scripture tells us to fear God and that such fear is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).  Yet worldly fears are crippling.  They usually start by believing a lie, such as that we are not good enough or that no one loves us.  From there the fear builds, and like a spreading vine, it begins to choke off life.  It leads to ever greater degrees of control as we seek protect ourselves from what we fear.  If left unchecked, it can produce death.

I know.  Not long ago, certain fears had begun to choke the life out of me.  Praise be to God, when I took those fears to Him, He showed me their roots, and when I laid those roots before Him, He took them away.  He freed me of fear and restored to me a spirit of power, love, and a sound mine, enabling me to see things clearly and as they really are.

What is it that troubles your soul?  Would you not like to be free of it?  Our Lord promises that a fearful spirit does not come from Him.  Lay before Him your worries and let Him restore you to peace by His grace.

O Lord, I could sing of Your love forever!  Truly, Your grace is amazing, and I thank You for restoring my soul.  Give me the strength in my weakness not to rely on my own strength, which is nothing but weakness, but to lean on Your strength, and so be truly strong.  In the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins

Monday, October 3, 2011

October 3 (Jeremiah 23:1)

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. (KJV)

When we hear of a church scandal or the sinful actions of a church leader, it is tempting to want a return to a purer time, when the faith was new and the Church was young.  Unfortunately, such a pristine state never existed.  Even in the days of Jeremiah, there were pastors who did more harm than good, and when you think about it, this makes perfect sense.

God works through human beings.  He built His Church on Peter, a man who denied he even knew Jesus.  It is foolish to think that those who serve God are perfect.  They are not.  They face the same temptations as the rest of us and, thanks to our shared sin nature, they will at times yield to that sin.

Claiming that the sin of a church leader is keeping a person from the Christian faith or being part of a church is a copout.  It is also being hypocritical, for why should we demand those around us to be perfect when we fall short ourselves?  We must always judge the Church and the Christian faith from the perfect standard of Christ and His word.  Our obedience must be to Him, no matter how much His servants may let us down.

Lord, may I never be an obstacle to anyone enjoying Your grace by my sinful actions.  Likewise, may I never doubt You because of the actions of another. In the name of my perfect Lord Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2011 by Steven R. Perkins