Sunday, December 30, 2012

December 30 (John 21:3)

“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them.  (NIV)

Christmas can be so much fun that when it is over, the letdown can be rather dramatic.  We have enjoyed some time off from work to be with family and friends.  Perhaps we have had a chance to reflect on what really matters in life.  The thought of going back to work and resuming daily routines may seem deflating.

The wonderful thing about the Christian life is that it is rooted in the daily and the ordinary.  If we think a bit of Christmas vacation is an emotional high, try living with Jesus for three years.  The disciples had experienced greater things than we ever will this side of heaven, and then it all came to a halt.  Jesus was dead.  What now?  Peter’s return to his job of fishing reminds us that life goes on and that this is a good thing.  The highs, the lows, they are all part of the great pageant of life, and of course, as we see a few verses later, Jesus is present in even the most mundane moments.

God has redeemed every moment of every day for His purposes.  As you return to the workplace and the patterns of everyday life, remember that the joy of Christmas is not contained in tinsel and lights.  It is grounded in the realities of life on earth, and the babe in the manger became the risen Savior who walks with us still.

Thank You, Father, for the days of rest and celebration surrounding the birth of Your Son, Jesus.  As I go back to the work to which You have called me, may I work to Your glory, doing all and only what You would have me to do.  In the name of Jesus, my Savior, I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December 23 (Matthew 1:24)

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. (NIV)

December 23 will always having a special meaning for me. It is my parents’ wedding anniversary. When I was a boy, I always bought them specialty coffee and found Christmas-themed anniversary cards. For me, Christmas will always be associated with the wedding of my parents.

While our attention is properly on Jesus, it is also important to remember that He did not grow up in isolation, nor did He appear fully grown and ready to work miracles. God saw to it that the One Who was to take on our sins first took on our complete humanity.

The marriage of Joseph and Mary is, therefore, vitally important to the Christmas story. This marriage provided for the divine Jesus all that was necessary for His growth and development as a human. He experienced the primal form of community, the human family, and He experienced the many facets of love, from the romantic to the sacrificial. In his parents He saw the extent of humanity, the very humanity He had come to save.

Father, thank You not only for Jesus Himself, but for the stories of His life. Thank You for the models we have in Joseph, Mary, and the disciples of how to live a life centered around Him. May our own lives likewise have Him as the focus. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December 16 (John 11:35)

Jesus wept.  (NIV)

Where does one begin?  With thoughts of gun control laws?  With questions angrily hurled toward God?  With calls for security?  With outrage?  With confusion?  With fear?

It is hard to imagine anything more heinous, more evil than the slaughtering of innocent children in their classrooms just before Christmas.  It is a wrenching reminder that evil exists, not as an abstract concept for philosophical debate, but as a real force that manifests itself in murder, rape, theft, abuse, and destruction.  This is something easy to forget in a land of shopping malls and smart phones that offer up to us every whim of our hearts, treasures just for the asking.

In the unspeakable tragedy of the Sandy Hook slayings, we see the heart of Christmas.  God has never been under any illusions regarding the evil His children can willfully embrace.  For this reason, He sent His Son to enter into our pain and suffering, to take upon His innocent shoulders the just penalty for our atrocious acts.  We may blithely ignore evil, but God never has.  Yet He will not use violence to wrest from us our free will in an effort to rid the world of violence.  Instead, He sends His Holy Spirit into hearts, leading them gently toward love.  And when people reject Him to commit the most vile acts, His heart breaks along with ours.

O Lord, comfort those whose hearts are bleeding with unspeakable pain.  Breathe your grace into their lives.  Send them the peace and comfort of Christ, Who died in innocence and rose again that all of us might have life.  Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December 2 (Luke 2:1)

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (NIV)
Our family recently took in a Bethlehem Walk at a local church.  For years this church has set up a re-enactment scene in which visitors travel toward Bethlehem as part of a larger family.  We encountered angels singing praise to God, Roman soldiers who demanded taxes and identification papers, and all the sights and sounds of daily life in the ancient city.  What struck me the most was the encounter with the Romans.  They were harsh, and we had been warned to keep our heads down and not to make eye contact with them.
Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ could well relate to what Mary and Joseph had to experience.  They know the daily experience of living in a land of violence, where arrests, beatings, and death openly occur as a result of a person’s faith.  We had the opportunity to experience this in the most meager of fashions, as a historical re-enactment.  What if the very real threat of oppression hung over our Christmas preparations?
As you put out lights and decorate your home in proud declaration of the birth of Jesus, take a thought for our brothers and sisters in the faith who could be tortured or killed for whispering His name.  If you feel the Holy Spirit speaking to you about how you could be a blessing to persecuted Christians in our own age, visit, the website of Voice of the Martyrs.  For thousands of Christians around the world, persecution does not come in the form of a costumed re-enactor.  It hovers over them as a daily presence.
Father, bless Your children who suffer physically, emotionally, financially, relationally, and in any other way for their faith in Your Son.  Protect them from harm and bless their witness, that even their persecutors may come to know the One Who was born to die for them.  In the name of our precious Savior, Christ the Lord, amen.
Copyright © 2012 by Steven R. Perkins