Sunday, July 29, 2012

July 29 (Matthew 14:30)

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (NIV)
Jesus beckoned to Peter to walk toward Him on water. Peter saw the wind and began to sink. We often look at this story as a reminder that we must not let distractions keep us from following Christ. Stop and think, though. Peter was already walking on water when he became fearful of the wind. It is true that the cares of the world may prevent us from even getting out of the boat, but sometimes, as in the case of Peter, we have been walking by faith for some time when the wind hits.

The challenge for many Christians is in keeping the faith. You may actually have been doing a great job for quite a while. You do not worry about finances. You give your cares to the Lord. You do bold things to serve the Kingdom, things that would be unreasonable in the eyes of the world. Congratulations! You have been doing just what God has asked of you.

If you find yourself floundering, however, flailing wildly just to keep your head above water, relax into the arms of our Savior. He will help you up and get you walking on water again. In fact, you are in a great position, because He can remind you of your experience in trusting Him already. Never for one moment allow the enemy to steal that experience from you. Trust in Him and what He has already enabled you to do and get back into the game.

Lord, I realize that I have let my focus drift, yielding to fears and worries that I once would have surrendered to You. You have always guided me to do more than I possibly could have on my own strength. I surrender again to Your might, Your love, and Your grace. Lead me on, even through restless waters. In the name of Christ Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 22 (1 Corinthians 9:24)

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. (NIV)
Christian musician Rich Mullins once sang, "Love's not a feeling. Oh, we've got to learn to get past our emotions to the meaning of the word." 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love, but it is easy for us slip into a saccharine, emotional understanding of love. From there it is a quick step to lazy, careless Christianity.

Love is tough. It is strong. It is powerful. It was what held the arms of God to a cross on our behalf. Living this way takes serious effort and training. What do you need to do? Do you need to get back into a pattern of Scripture reading and study? Stop making excuses and do it. Do you need to pray more regularly, surround yourself with praise music, or exercise the muscles of servanthood by getting out and serving? Stop making excuses and do it. Complacency is not an option for a follower of Christ.

The Olympics are around the corner. How much time and effort do you think the athletes spend honing their skills? Do you think they are ever satisfied with their performance, no matter how many gold medals they have won? Why would we be content with an hour or two at church and a general habit of being nice? There is so much more we can be as Christians. Paul reminds us that we have to maintain our training.

Lord, I admit that I have grown soft. It is easy for me to think that I am living a good enough life, forgetting that You have called me to more than that. You have called me to be like Jesus. Give me the courage to live His kind of love. Train me to live and serve well. In the name of Christ Jesus, my Savior, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, July 15, 2012

July 15 (Psalm 51:12)

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (NIV)

Can you remember what it was like when you first fell in love with Jesus? I was a teen, and it was a thrilling time. I listened to contemporary Christian music, read my Bible, and felt as if I could conquer the world with and for my Lord. How do the days of your first love compare with today?

No matter what your situation, things will come along to dim and dull your relationship with Christ. The heady days of your salvation blend into the days of paying the bills, racing to put gas in the tank on the way to church, searching for the remote control.

Would you like to recover the joy you had when your relationship with Jesus was new? You can, because on His end of things, the relationship has never changed. He is just as much in love with You as He ever was. His plans for You are the same, and He longs for you to enter the grand adventure of true life with Him. Perhaps you, like David, need to pray a prayer of restoration.

My Lord, I want to love You with the white hot intensity that I once did. I confess that my love has cooled. Forgive me for letting other things get in the way. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. In the name of Jesus, whom I love, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, July 8, 2012

July 8 (John 21:-21-22)

When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." (NIV)

One of the most successful tactics Satan uses against us is persuading us that God is not good and does not love us. You may say this has never worked with you, but ask yourself whether fear, doubt, and worry have ever crept into your life. If they have, then it is likely you took your eyes off God, trusting more in your own ability because you did not fully trust His.

So why do we do it? One reason is that we begin to look at the suffering of others and think that if God did not love them enough to help their situation, He will not help us. When it comes to the suffering of others, however, no one can ever fully know the details and circumstances. We must not look to the life of someone else as our model of Who God is. As the old hymn said, we must turn our eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

What is preventing you from seeing Jesus and nothing else? Can you dare, if even for a moment, to look not at that obstacle, but gaze into the face of the One Who loves you?

Lord, as You did with Paul, clear the scales from my eyes so that I may see You for Who You really are. Give me the grace to let go of those things that keep me bound in fear, doubt, and worry. I put my trust fully in You. In the name of Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 1 (Matthew 7:11)

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (NIV)

Jesus does an extraordinary thing by using human parents as a point of comparison for understanding the nature of God.  I came to see this in a new way when our son attended a basketball camp at a major university.  My camera was out snapping pictures right and left.  Some were blurry or caught a boy in front of our son.  Others were sharp and showed him in action, ball leaving his hand and a look of intensity on his face.  As I thought about how I would arrange them in a movie when we returned home, I knew that I would discard the pictures that did not portray our son in the best light, retaining only the ones that showed him at his best.

If this is how an earthly father sees his child, think for a moment of how our heavenly Father sees His children.  When we are washed in the blood of Jesus, our Father no longer sees us in pictures blurred by sin.  He sees us in the warm, clear light of love.  Let that sink in.  God chooses to see you in the best possible light.  He loves you more than you can possibly understand and wants the best for you.  Understanding this at a deep and intuitive level will change every aspect of your life.

Father, thank You for Your love and grace toward me.  I am overwhelmed by Your goodness.  Your love humbles me and makes we want to serve You with all that I am.  Thank You, my Lord, my God, my Father.  Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins