Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 28 (Philippians 3:14)

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  (ESV)
At the beginning of our walk with Jesus, everything is fresh and new and exciting.  We are prepared to do anything with Him and would gladly face lions in the arena.  The end of our journey brings the hope and comfort of seeing Him soon face to face.  Chances are good that you are at neither place.  You are somewhere in the long middle.
The long middle sees you attending your 5,221st worship service with number 5,222 coming up next week.  Yippee.  The long middle is filled with one more Bible study, one more ministry opportunity, one more prayer.  It can seem repetitious and boring, and it is then that the enemy strikes.  We take our eyes off Jesus, and the thoughts come flooding in.  Why I am doing this?  Does it make any difference?  Do I really believe this stuff?  What if I took a break?
There is a goal, and there is a prize.  Paul knew it.  He also knew that it took perseverance, pressing on.  On earth you will spend far more time in the long middle of your relationship with Jesus than at either of the exciting ends.  When the questions and doubts come, and they will, how will you respond?  Will you give in to their distraction, or will you press on toward the goal?
Jesus, I never want to take my eyes from You.  When I look at my job, my family, and my responsibilities, may I see them all through You.  Let nothing pull my attention from You, my strength and my redeemer.  Amen.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 14 (Matthew 16:18)

…my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.  (NIV)
The Greek word for “church” is ekklesia.  It literally means the assembly of those called out.  In other words, it means you and me.  We are the assembly of those called out…called out from sin and darkness into life and light, called out from the world to be part of the kingdom of God.
Of course, that kingdom is not a fairy tale land of licorice streams and big rock candy mountains.  It is a kingdom doing battle with the very world from which we have been called and in which we still live.  There is great and good work for us to do as part of this ekklesia.
The encouraging thing is that nothing can stop us.  Jesus said so Himself.  Hell has no power over God’s people.  As we fight on our knees in prayer, while we battle with the open and outstretched hands of servants, we do so confidently, knowing that He Who overcame the world is our King.
Lord, it is easy for me to become discouraged and worn out.  Sometimes I wonder whether I am making any difference at all.  Today I take Your own words as my comfort and encouragement to enter once again the Kingdom battle to which You have called me.  Thank You for honoring me with such a call.  In the name of Jesus, my Savior, amen.
Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, July 7, 2013

July 7 (Matthew 9:1)

Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town.  (NIV)

After healing two men possessed by demons, Jesus sends the demons into a herd of pigs who run off a cliff.  The townspeople come out and beg Him to leave.  You can just hear the typical big shot saying, "You rubes have no idea who I am!  You ignorant yokels!  I just performed a miracle in front of your very eyes, to say nothing of healing those two insane men who had been terrorizing you. If you had half a brain among you, you would be begging me to stay."
Or if it were the salesman type, hawking wares and obsessing with the bottom line, it might have gone like this.  "Now, folks, don't be so hasty.  I can replace those pigs.  In fact, I'll double...make that triple the herd.  I just cured those two crazy men, right?  And I haven't even begun to show you all the things I can do.  Tell you what.  Let me stay here with you for a few days.  You can get to know me, I can get to know you, and I think you'll see I can really help you guys out."
Jesus does none of this.  He walks away, gets into a boat, and rows off.  He is not going to bluster or persuade anyone into anything.  He is going to do what He is going to do, and people can either come along or not.  How powerful!  How pure!  And how dangerous, for, being God, He leaves the choice entirely up to us.
Jesus, even when You disrupt my life, I want to follow You.  May I never be so caught up in the details of my life that I would reject You, the giver of life and life itself.  I choose to be with You and ask You to have Your way with me, no matter the consequences.  Amen.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins