Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 25 (Matthew 11:5-6)

[T]he blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.  And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.  (ESV)
When asked by the disciples of John the Baptist whether He were the one they had been waiting for, Jesus did not give a straightforward answer.  He simply pointed to the things He had done and left it for them to decide for themselves.  Then He said something strange.  “And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Who could be offended by the healing of people or the raising of the dead?  Apparently Jesus could see into our lives today, for a great many of us seem offended by Him and His works.  We would not say we are offended, but we certainly are hesitant to share the things He has done in our lives and the lives of others.  We will tell a friend about a fifty cents off coupon, but we hold back on talking about Jesus for fear of…what do we say?  Offending someone.  We are the ones who are offended by Jesus when we think anything about Him might be offensive to someone else.
What part of the life and teaching of Jesus most offends you?  To put it another way, what part of the life and teaching of Jesus are you most hesitant to share with others?  We need to ask God to heal our hearts of their fear so they can embrace the courage He gives us to do His will. 
Father, this is difficult to admit, but there are certain things about Jesus that I am hesitant to share with those around me.  I confess that I worry about how I will be heard and what the reaction of my friends will be.  Heal me of this fear and fill me with the strength of Your Holy Spirit.  I want to be an ambassador for Christ.  In the name of Him Who faced not just fear but death for me, amen.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 18 (Matthew 10:38-39)

And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  (ESV)
Jesus makes it abundantly clear that following Him will cost us something.  In fact, He makes it clear that it will cost everything.  In the ancient world, saying to take up your cross would have been like saying today to strap into the electric chair.  Now, this kind of absolute call can seem like a romantic notion.  It is the call to dangerous adventure.  There is something deep within us that wants to be called to a life like this.  In fact, that is how God made us.
The problem is that most of us are cowards.  Think of the movie Braveheart.  We like to think of ourselves as the hero, William Wallace.  We are actually more like the coward and traitor Robert the Bruce.  Perhaps this is why Jesus was so upfront in telling us the cost of following Him.  He does not want us backing out and claiming that we never knew it would cost so much.
So are you willing?  Are you willing to give everything to follow Him?  Are you ready to give it all again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that?  Are you prepared to follow Him all the way to Calvary?
Jesus, it is easy to follow You when I think about how You care for me the way a shepherd cares for His sheep.  Grant me the grace to follow You even when those around me are shouting, “Crucify!”  In Your holy name I pray.  Amen.
Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, August 11, 2013

August 11 (Matthew 10:34)

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  (ESV)
What sort of warlike brute would say such a thing?  Is this the latest headline from yet another dictator with overblown rhetoric threatening nuclear war?  No, these are words from the Prince of Peace Himself, Jesus Christ.  What is going on here?
This verse follows Matthew 10:32-33 in which Jesus talks about acknowledging Him in front of others.  It is as if He is underlining His point.  “You want to follow me?  Then acknowledge me in public.  But make no mistake about it.  It’s going to cost you.  You can’t fly under the radar.  As a matter of fact, it is going to cause division and relational disaster among those you love most.  Still want to do this?”
This is not a mandate to go forth and be a jerk.  If we follow Jesus faithfully, some people will be offended naturally.  It is going to happen.  Will it matter to you when it does?  Will that cause you to hold your tongue and not speak what you know to be true?  Or will you risk friendships and family peace for the only relationship that really matters?
Lord, You know what a coward I am.  I would much rather not ruffle feathers and go with the flow.  I want people to like me.  Help me put aside such trivial sentiment.  Grant me the strength and courage to follow You no matter the cost.  In the name of Jesus, Who paid the ultimate cost at Calvary, amen.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins

Saturday, August 3, 2013

August 4 (Mark 9:29)

And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”  (ESV)
It is said that to a person who has only a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  We need as many tools as we can get when it comes to our jobs, our relationships, our business endeavors.  In fact, we need all the help we can get with pretty much every aspect of life.
Those who follow Jesus have a powerful tool.  We can pray.  If you think that prayer is a quick, rhyming recitation before meals, think again.  Prayer is direct and intimate contact with God.  I would have to buy a ticket, wait in line, or pull strings to get even a few minutes with those who have power in this world.  With God, I can go to the head of the line at the blink of an eye.  In fact, He wants me to involve Him in my life.
So what are you waiting for?  If you have “done your prayer time” and are now struggling with the day, stop and go back to prayer.  The challenge in front of you does not have to be dealt with by your own strength.  In fact, it cannot be handled that way.   You have a powerful tool in the bag.  Use it.

Jesus, I need to stay in constant contact with You today.  We both know I have a tendency to charge off on my own.  Help me to stay grounded in You, laying everything before You and acting only through Your strength.  Amen.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins