Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 29 (Romans 8:26)

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  (NIV)

Imagine telling the teacher that you do not know how to answer a question on the test and the teacher then saying, “Just give it to me.  I will answer it for you.”  While that may be the dream of every student, I doubt it has ever happened.  Now pause for a moment and think about what God offers us through the Holy Spirit.

When we fall into the temptation of thinking that God is far removed from us or unwilling to hear us, we have missed an incredible blessing.  The Holy Spirit dwells within us, and He is God.  When we are overcome with a situation and words fail, it does not matter.  Even when we cannot pray, God prays for us.  Think about that.  God is saying, “I will pray to me for you.”

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:8 that God knows what we need even before we ask.  What a loving God He is to pray for us when we cannot pray for ourselves!

Father, I love you.   You never cease to amaze me with Your love and grace.  Not only did You allow Jesus to die for my sins, You filled me with the Holy Spirit, Who pleads my case before You.  I adore You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.  Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 22 (Psalm 119)

If you want the text for this week’s devotion, you will need to look it up in your Bible.  It just is not practical list all one hundred seventy-six verses here.

Seriously, read the entire psalm.  Read it in one sitting, start to end, without stopping.  Let the force of it carry you away.  This is the song of a person running hard after the heart of God.  It is the cry of one who truly wants to know Him better and to serve Him more faithfully.  It is the plea of one who feels pain at the injustice and immorality around him.  Let the powerful sweep of this poem wash over you.

Does it describe you?  If so, then draw the same comfort from the words and promises of God that the psalmist drew.  If not, then take heart and take steps.  When we cry out to God, He hears us.  Even when we are not faithful, even when we stray from the path He has set before us, He hears us.  He has also given us His word, which you hold in your hands.  If you want to draw closer to Him, it is as simple as picking it up and beginning to read.

Lord, my heart does indeed long for You.  Draw me closer.  Fill my heart that I may walk in Your ways.  Keep distractions from me.  Help me to put my focus on You.  In the name of Jesus, Who kept His eyes fixed on You even while on the cross, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April 15 (1 Corinthians 15:3-7)

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.  (NIV)

Here is a simple test.  Imagine a one-dollar bill.  Picture it in your mind.  Can you see both sides of it?  Now take out a one-dollar bill and put it on the table.  Which is better, the image in your mind or the six-inch piece of paper in front of you?  There is no question that the one on the table is better.  You can actually buy something with it.  No one is going to sell you a product based on the money you can picture in your mind.

The resurrection of Jesus is not just a wonderful story that lives on in our minds.  The Superman story is a wonderful tale that lives on in our minds, but we all know that Superman is not real and so we do not base our lives around him or his story.  Yet Jesus is truly alive.  This is no fairy tale.  Hundreds of people bore eyewitness testimony to the fact.

“Well, I have not seen Him,” someone may say.  So what?  We live our lives with perfectly reasonable confidence in knowledge of which we have no direct connection.  Seriously, have you worked out the equations that make the nanotechnology of your smart phone possible?  Jesus rose from the dead.  It is a fact with solid testimony.  How will that truth affect your life?

Father, thank You for the glorious resurrection of Jesus.  Thank You for the testimony of the early disciples and those who saw Him.  Thank You for the record of Scripture.  Thank you for the ongoing witness of the Church.  Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit, Who lives within me.  Thank You for such a sure rock on which to build my life.  Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, April 8, 2012

April 8 (Matthew 28:5)

He has risen.  (NIV)

He has risen, and so I live.  He has risen, and so I can face my fears.  He has risen, and so I stand against the challenges, temptations, and pain in life.  He has risen, and so I have confidence for the future.  He has risen, and so I can love.  He has risen, and so I know the truth.  He has risen, and so I can forget myself.  He has risen, and so I can restore relationships.  He has risen, and so I stand in the winds of doubt.  He has risen, and so I give and do not need to receive.  He has risen, and so I receive all I need.  He has risen, and so I fall to my knees.  He has risen, and so I am healed.  He has risen, and so I know love.  He has risen, and so I am forgiven.  He has risen, and so I am forgiven.  He has risen, and so I am forgiven.

Glory to God in the highest, for Christ my Savior, in Whom I live and move and have my being, has risen today.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 1 (Matthew 10:31)

Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (KJV)

God does not owe me an explanation for anything. He certainly does not owe me an explanation when He gives me a command, and it is for this reason that I find the fourth word in the verse for today one of the most wonderful expressions of love.

No, you did not miscount which I word I meant. I meant the humble conjunction “therefore.” Immediately prior to the command not to fear, Jesus had given a simple illustration and used it as the basis for an easy piece of logic. Sparrows are cheap, He had said. Our Father knows when even a sparrow falls to the ground. Do not fear, therefore, for we are worth more than many sparrows. Jesus could have given the command not to fear with no further illustration or line of reasoning. Yet He chose to put everything in perspective. He chose to show us how the reason not to be afraid flows logically from the natural order of things.

Years ago, my wife and I led a student trip to Italy. It was our first time to go, and I was quite comforted when a security guard at the airport in Rome spoke English to us. As I reflected later, and shared with my students, it was quite an honor to see my language on bilingual signs and to hear my language being spoken. I myself had done nothing to deserve such respect. Who, then, am I that God should explain His reasoning to me? According to Jesus, I am someone worth more than many sparrows.

Father, forgive me when I demand signs and proof upon proof before following Your commands. You so graciously have set forth Your will for me. May I, with the simplicity of a bird, live as You have called me. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins