Sunday, February 26, 2012

February 26 (John 12:24)

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  (NIV)

There has never been an age so focused on itself as this one.  The ancient Romans may have indulged in physical excess, but we take the cake when it comes to being obsessed with ourselves.  A person says, “I have to do what is right for me,” and the rest of society cheers because that is what we all want to say about ourselves.  It is in our songs, advertisements, entertainment, news, and schools.  It seems to be in the air.

Jesus proposes something radical to our age.  He proposes that we die to ourselves, and He uses the simplest of illustrations to show why we must.  It is a small, cramped life that lives in a mansion with no thought for others.  It is a vast, expansive one that lives in a shack while giving its last dollar to one in need.  How much of my life is spent thinking about my life?  How much of my time, energy, and resources are spent serving my own needs?

Jesus tells us a simple truth.  If we want a full life, one with meaning and relevance, we must die to ourselves.  We must look away from the mirror, the checkbook, and the daily agenda.  We must look up to Him and out to the world to which He has called us.

Father, I spend far too much time thinking about myself.  Even in prayer to You, the focus is usually on me.  Help me to die to myself this week that I may grow and flourish for You.  In the name of Jesus, Who died on a cross and rose again to bring life to all, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, February 19, 2012

February 19 (Romans 12:1)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. (NIV)

Sacrifice has little meaning in the modern age. We think we are sacrificing when we stop eating donuts for a few days. The ancient world would have readily understood what Paul was saying in this verse. A sacrifice in those times meant the sacrifice of an animal. It meant the killing of the animal and the burning of its body on an altar. A sacrifice was complete. It was total. There would be nothing left.

This is what God wants from us. He wants our complete and total surrender to Him in every single thing, in every single place, at every single moment of our lives. Is this because He is a dictator and a tyrant? No, it is because, first of all, He is worthy and deserving of nothing less. His perfection alone requires our complete surrender. It is also because of His love. Do you want the affection of your beloved to be divided with another? God loves us totally and completely, and He desires the same from us.

Is there anything you have held back from the altar? Is there a part of your life, your possessions, your time that you have reserved for you alone? God wants it. He wants it for the simple reason that He wants all of you.

Father, it is easy for me to compartmentalize my life, to give certain aspects to certain people, and yes, to give only parts of it to You. Today I lay down my entire life on the altar of Your glory. It is Yours. Grant me the grace not to pick it up again. In the name of Jesus, my Savior, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, February 12, 2012

February 12 (Exodus 4:2)

Then the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. (NIV)

You already have all that you need to do what God has called you to do. This is a powerful thing to realize. When God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, He told Moses to look at what was already in his hand. God then worked miracles through that simple staff.

Think about this for a moment. We often think that we must purchase this or obtain that in order to fulfill some grand scheme that we have convinced ourselves God wants us to follow. While it is true that God does call ordinary people to extraordinary lives, it is also true that He knew what He wanted from us before we were born. The work of our lives should not be about spending our efforts to get ready to do the work of our lives.

What is that in your hand? Is there something you are particularly good at doing? How could you do it to serve God’s purposes? Is there something in which you are particularly interested? Do you have certain resources? How can you work through what is already in your life to fulfill what God has called you to?

Gracious heavenly Father, thank You for the blessings You have poured into my life, blessings of time, resources, and talents. Forgive me for overlooking those blessings in the mad pursuit of others. Help me to use what You have already given me to be salt and light in the world. In the name of Jesus, my Lord, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February 5 (Exodus 3:4)

When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”  And Moses said, “Here I am.”  (NIV)

A burning bush caught the attention of Moses, and he heard the voice of God.  What catches your attention?  Political candidates spend vast sums to catch our attention.  Advertisements during sporting events spend even more.  God reaches out to us continually through miracles that surround us.  I repeat, what catches your attention?

Sometimes God acts dramatically, as He did when parting the Red Sea and splitting the curtain in the temple when Jesus was crucified.  Yet He does not have to shout.  He is God.  He has every right to expect that even His smallest whisper will get our attention.

Paying attention and learning to see and hear God are skills that we must develop.  They take time.  They take effort.  In the frenetic pace of life, is hearing God worth your time and effort?  Look and listen for Him this week.  He is always speaking and wants to speak to you.

Father, forgive me for not having enough time for You.  I confess that I am often so busy with the things I think are important that I disregard how You are trying to speak to me.  Help me to hear You and to respond quickly as Moses did.  In the name of Jesus, my Savior I pray, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins