Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 25 (Matthew 8:25-26)

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”  He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (NIV)

A storm had arisen, and the disciples were rightly afraid.  If any of us had been the one they awakened, we would have offered some words of comfort as we set about doing what we could do to make the situation better.  Such words form the niceties that make social interaction work.  For example, not everyone needs to hear the full story of how we feel as we walk the hallways of our workplace.  A person asks how we are, and we reply with a smile that we are just fine, and then return the question.

Jesus seems to have had no use for such niceties.  Consider how He addressed His mother in John 2:4 or the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-22.  Such interactions can appear uncaring or simply rude.  What we are witnessing, however, is pure truth.  Jesus, Who is the truth, cannot indulge in the white lies that grease the wheels of our social interactions.  The One Who said in Matthew 5:37 that anything more than a simple yes or no is from Satan, cannot deviate from the truth into foolish small talk.

How much of our talk is filled with nothing?  How often do we give empty compliments that we do not mean, gently lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, or run on at the mouth for any number of reasons?  Jesus never misses an opportunity both to speak and enact the truth.  If my life is to reflect His, there is much I must change in how I interact with everyone.

Almighty Father, I want people to like me.  To be honest, I am more concerned about this than that You approve of my life.  Change my heart on this, o God.  Help me to speak only the truth in love, caring more about being like Jesus than being liked by my friends.  In His holy name I pray, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 18 (Ezekiel 16:49)

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. (NIV)
Who says the Bible is irrelevant to the modern age? Exchange the name of Sodom with your country, your state, or your city, and the verse will read the same. The modern arrogance by which we scream for our own attention amidst an ever-deafening din of narcissism enabled by social media makes the hubris of the Roman emperors seem humble. If statistics on obesity are not enough for us to realize that we are overfed, then ask your grandmother about portion sizes in her day. As for whether we are unconcerned, that hardly needs consideration. There is plenty of money for education and fighting poverty with the billions we spend on pornography, alcohol, and cigarettes.

Now, how does it feel to be compared with Sodom? This city is so infamous for its evil that it has become a byword even today. We may feel shocked, hurt, or angry. We may be offended, tempted to list all that is good in our society. When the emotions have settled, however, the clear light of truth exposes the accuracy of this comparison.

The wonderful, powerful thing about following Jesus is that we never need to wallow in such feelings. We can confess our sins, confident in His forgiveness, and with His strength repent and do differently. Imagine what would happen when one Christian did this. What about one small group, one church, or the body of Christ in one community? Instead of being Sodom, we can be a light on a hill. The grace to do so comes from God. The choice is ours.

Father, forgive me for carelessly falling into the sins of this age. By Your grace, help me to live as You would have me to do. May I be the salt and light that You have called me to be. In the name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 11, 2012

March 11 (Exodus 20:3)

You shall have no other gods before me. (NIV)

I was recently moderating an academic competition for high school students, and one of the questions in the category of Greek and Roman mythology asked who the king of the gods was. One young lady buzzed in and said, “Jesus Christ!” She immediately realized her mistake, given the category, but I was tempted to award her points. She had, in fact, given an accurate answer.
The exclusivity of Christianity bothers some people, and indeed it could be a proper source of concern if it originated from a merely human teaching. As the verse for today reminds us, however, God Himself has declared it. Whether Zeus, Allah, or the Great Spirit, it makes no difference. Whether money, fame, or security, anything that claims our devotion is a false god. In fact, it is no god at all. There is only one, and He has revealed Himself as a trinity, one God eternally existing as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

It may be the temptation to pursue other idols of our own making or to seem tolerant by embracing other religions. Whatever leads us to acknowledge anything or anyone else as god, however, is a violation of the first commandment and a betrayal of the One Who loved us so much that He was willing to die for us.

Father, in my love of others, may I never stray from my love for You. In my pursuit of earthly things, may I make none of them my god. You alone are my Lord and my God, my Savior in Whom I put my trust. In the precious name of Jesus, Who with You and the Holy Spirit reigns forever, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March 4 (Exodus 32:1)

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”  (NIV)

How long is long enough to wait for God?  When should we take matters into our own hands?  Do we wait for five years, five days, or five minutes?

In the classic example of impatience, the Israelites felt that they had had enough waiting while Moses was on Mt. Sinai speaking with God.  They felt they could wait no longer and decided to make their own gods to worship.  Sound familiar?  How often do I lay a matter before God in prayer and proceed to act on it as soon as the “amen” has left my lips?  Read the rest of the chapter to see how such impatience played out.  It is not a pleasant story.

Perhaps never in history has there been such an impatient age as ours.  We multi-task and run from this activity to that at ever increasing speeds.  Such behavior leads inevitably to this sin of the Israelites.  With the current speed of life, it is impossible to wait on God, yet that is exactly what He wants and requires us to do.  How long will you wait on Him before you make a god of the person in the mirror?

Father, I cry out to You to help me slow down.  The pace of life is so fast that I feel I must run all the time just to stay a little bit behind.  Forgive me when I have taken matters into my own hands rather than relying on Your grace and provision.  Help me to follow You and not to run in front of You.  In the name of Jesus, my Lord, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins