Sunday, January 29, 2012

January 29 (Exodus 1:10)

Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country. (NIV)

Few biblical figures are as reviled as Pharaoh, yet before we rush to judgment, it may be good to see just how reasonable a person he was. Here was a leader who inherited a situation in which a large group of foreigners was living within his boundaries. It was certainly reasonable to think the Israelites would continue to grow in number. It was also reasonable to think that they might join with Egypt’s enemies. They were not native Egyptians, and in those days, ethnicity meant everything. As a good leader, he knew he had to address the situation before it became a genuine problem.

Do you see the danger in clear, reasonable thinking when someone does not know God? Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust in the Lord with all our heart and not to lean on our own understanding. Whether you are a pharaoh or a president, a CEO or coach of the Little League team, a principal or a parent, our thinking and planning must be rooted in the fear and worship of God, or we risk going badly astray. If we are not in any position of leadership, we must carefully measure what our leaders say and do against this same standard.

This is a presidential election year in the United States. We will hear much about plans for the economy, education, health care, and domestic and foreign policy. It does not matter how reasonable any person’s plans sound in the light of personal preference. The only thing that matters is how they align with faithfulness to God.

Lord, help me to rely solely on You and Your perfect will and not on my own understanding of the things that affect my life. Help me to see as You see, to love as You love, and to serve as You serve. In the name of Jesus Christ, Who saw death on a cross as the ultimate glory, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, January 22, 2012

January 22 (Exodus 1:8)

Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. (NIV)

With the change of one ruler to the next, the lives of an entire nation went from good to bad. Under the previous ruler of Egypt, the nation of Israel had been allowed to receive food during a time of famine and to live off the land when the famine passed. The pharaoh had made promises to Joseph, and all of Israel prospered because of them. This pharaoh’s successor, however, knew nothing of this and began to oppress the Israelites, turning them into slaves.

This passage from our history reminds us of the importance of passing on the faith and teaching its precepts and its stories to the next generation. Think about it. Wherever you live, you have an incredible opportunity and responsibility. Whether you live in Texas or New Zealand, you have the task of passing along the details of the Christian faith, which began two thousand years ago in the Middle East.

To fulfill this task, we must all do two things. First, we must study and understand our faith. We must read the Bible, and through prayer and study, seek to understand it better. We must learn the stories of our faith. Second, we must always be looking for those with whom to share our faith. Whether with a neighbor or co-worker, whether with a son or daughter, niece or nephew, we must spread the Good News, lest there should ever come again a king who does not know.

Father in heaven, thank You for those who shared the gospel with me. Thank You for the teachers and pastors, family and friends who taught me the stories and doctrine of our faith. Help me to be a faithful steward of that gift, passing it along to everyone I know. In the name of Jesus, my risen Lord and savior, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 15 (Joshua 24:15)

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.  (NIV)

We do this and do that, follow this, listen to that, vote one way, and support particular teams.  It is easy to become divided, fractured people in a world where the voices vying for our allegiance are ever louder and more persuasive.  Yet in all the clamor for our attention, there is really only one voice that has priority, and we must decide whether or not we will follow the One Whose voice it is.

No one is saying we cannot cheer for our favorite teams or take part in a heated political discussion, but at the end of the day, just where do you stand?  Ultimately, you have only yourself to answer for.  If you are a parent, then you have the additional responsibility of speaking for your family.  Where do you stand?  Is it with God?  If so, then there are certain claims on your life.  He has expectations of what it means to follow Him, expectations clearly laid out in His word and clearly taught in his church.

When you plant the banner of the Lord deeply and take your stand, all manner of lesser things go whirling by.  Sometimes the wind they create is strong, but hold firm.  If you choose to cling to Him, the Lord will be your strength.

O Lord, my God, I submit to You in humble obedience.  I am Yours.  I belong to You.  Command me to do what You will and grant me the grace to accomplish all You ask.  In the name of Christ Jesus, the rock on which I stand, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January 8 (Psalm 46:10)

Be still, and know that I am God.  (NIV)

In Joshua 3:5, Joshua told the people to consecrate themselves for the work that the Lord would do among them.  Whatever it means to consecrate yourself, it cannot happen carelessly in the hubbub of life with no more thought than it takes to fill your gas tank.  If we are going to set ourselves apart for holy work, then we first have to humble ourselves in awed silence of God’s transcendent holiness.

Has reading the Bible become a quick thing you do in the morning, something to check off the list before going to work?  Is prayer nothing more than a few words in time of need?  If you want to consecrate yourself for what God is calling you to do, then it may be time to change your spiritual habits.  Anything, over time, can become dull and lifeless.  Read a new translation of the Bible, one that makes you think about stories that are familiar.  Set aside a different time and place to pray.  This will cause you to break the rhythms of life, forcing you to slow down a bit and be still.
The purpose of daily devotions is not just to get something from God.  It is to get us before God.  Once humbly before our Lord, our task is simply to glorify Him.  He will work in us what He wants.

Lord, I want to draw closer to You.  Help me to dedicate time each day to You, time that is Yours alone.  May I guard this time as sacred, allowing nothing to intrude on this intimate time with You.  In the name of Jesus, Who often went away from the crowds to be along with You, I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

January 1 (Joshua 3:5)

Joshua told the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you." (NIV)

I love Joshua. He is bold and confident in the Lord. Who would not like to live a bolder, more confident life of faith? Perhaps this is your resolution for the new year. If so, then Joshua tells you how to do it. Consecrate yourself.

I am ashamed to think how much our Lord could have done through me had I been ready for Him, able to see what He wanted me to see. Too often, my life is clouded with sin or blurred with distractions and affairs of the world. I need to consecrate myself, to set myself apart for a sacred work. Just as an athlete trains repeatedly for a shot he or she may not get a chance to use for years, so we must prepare ourselves and get ready for whatever our Lord calls us to.

How should you consecrate yourself? is there something you need to stop, like a particular sin? Is it something you need to do, like pray or read Scripture more regularly? Whatever it is, hear Joshua telling you to do it. Get yourself ready. The Lord will do amazing things with you.

Gracious Father, I surrender myself completely...body, mind, and You. Train my hands and feet for Your service. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, o Lord, my strength and my redeemer. In the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit I pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins