Sunday, September 30, 2012

September 30 (1 John 1:9)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (NIV)

God wants everything to be clear and clean between you and Him. He wants your relationship to be perfect. In the book of Revelation, He speaks to different churches, affirming the good things they have done, but concluding with the one or two things that are wrong. Some may think God is just nitpicking here. Is it not good enough that we go to church, give to the poor, and read our Bibles? What does He want from us?

The answer is that He wants perfection. Of course, we cannot attain perfection on our own. This is why, out of His unimaginable store of love, He provides a way for us even when we fall. We must confess our sins to Him. He already knows them, but do we? Do we become complacent with our sharp or foul language? Do we become casual with our anger or lust? God wants us to confess to Him our sins. He wants us to be so close to Him and His perfect standard that we know what a sin actually is. Unlike a fellow human being, when we do confess how we have offended Him, He will not reject us. He will forgive us and purify us, restoring us to the perfect relationship with Him that He desires.

So what is your desire? Do you long to hear from God? Do you crave the close intimacy you once knew? Ask Him to reveal the places of sin in your life and with repentance confess them to Him. He really does want you back.

Father, a barrier has grown between You and me because of my sins, those things I should have done that I have not and those things I should not have done that I have. Forgive me, Father. I never wanted to separate myself from You. Draw me closer and restore a right spirit within me. In the name of Jesus, Who makes this grace possible, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September 16 (Luke 9:23)

Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (NIV)
I hold the North American land speed record in two events, turning from God and sinning. I can turn from God in the blink of an eye, and I have been known to sin in a heartbeat. Make no mistake. I love God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. When I am focused on Him, my heart burns with a love so hot it could dwarf the sun.

Ah, but there is the catch. When I am focused on Him. Like every person who has lived since Adam, I have spiritual attention deficit disorder. I know and believe that He provides for me, yet it is amazing how quickly I will resort to my own strength. I know and believe that He wants what is best for me, yet the speed with which I will do what I want would make your head spin.

Think about how much of the Bible is devoted to people returning to God. He constantly called the Israelites to stop what they were doing and turn back to Him. The whole mission of Jesus was to show people how they could be restored to God. Fortunately for us, God is even quicker to take us back than we are to leave Him.

Dear God, just when I think I am making some progress in my relationship with You, I slide back. I try to fight the world in my own strength. I give in to sin. Forgive me, Father, I pray. Once again, I surrender to You and take up my cross to follow Your Son, Jesus, in Whom I pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 9, 2012

September 9 (1 Thessalonians 1:4)

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you. (NIV)

You do not have to be a follower of Jesus Christ. In fact, the chances are very good that you could be living a very different life right now. Somewhere along the way, you heard about Jesus. You learned of something called the Church and the Bible. You found out about baptism and communion. Your heart was inflamed with a passionate love for Jesus, and you chose to follow Him. It did not, however, have to be that way.

Can you think of anyone who grew up with you who does not follow Jesus? Do you know anyone who went to your school, works with you, or in any other way has a life similar to yours who does not serve Him?

I do not know why God allowed me to have the parents I did, parents who taught me the Scriptures from an early age and took me to church. I do not know why I was blessed with Sunday School teachers as a child and brothers and sisters in Christ as an adult who could guide me on the way. I do not know why I have been blessed with the gift of faith and a deep love for God. What I know is this. I am grateful, I owe Him everything, and it is a debt I am delighted to spend my life paying.

Dear God, thank You for blessing me to know You. Thank You for all those who have taught or guided me in the Christian faith. Knowing You is the greatest blessing of my life. Please show me how I can thank You with my life. In the name of Jesus, my Savior, amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 2, 2012

September 2 (1 Corinthians 1:23)

but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.  (NIV)
Some translations render the last part of this verse as "foolishness to the Greeks" because the Gentiles, or non-Jews, were largely Greek-speaking peoples thanks to the conquest of Alexander the Great.  In the ancient world, Greeks were synonymous with philosophers.  Even today when we think of philosophy, the first names that come to mind are Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
Think about that for a moment.  The centerpiece of our faith is not a philosophy.  It is not a collection of wise sayings helpful for living daily life.  We do not follow a philosopher.  We serve a crucified Lord.  Before His role as teacher or healer, Jesus Christ was God in the flesh.
I do not avoid wrong and do right because it is logical.  I do not help the poor because it is the ethical thing to do.  The actions of my life are shaped and judged wholly by a person, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ.  I must never let my faith devolve into a set of dry and dusty rules to be followed as if I were the disciple of a school of philosophy.  I am a disciple of Christ.
Jesus, may my love for You burn hotter each day as I serve You, walk with You, live with You.  You are the author and perfecter of my faith.  In You alone I live and move and have my being.  Glory be to the Father and to You and to the Holy Spirit forever!  amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins