Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 29 (1 Chronicles 9:13)

mighty men for the work of the service of the house of God.  (ESV)

Tucked away in the middle of chapters that most people skip, so filled are they with genealogies and names hard to pronounce, is a wonderful phrase.  You may not think of those who serve in your church in the same way you do Captain America, Iron Man, and Hulk, but God does.  Service in His house is serious work, and it takes committed, gifted, strong people to accomplish it.

The phrase “mighty men” literally means those strong in respect to power.  It is almost a redundancy, but it emphasizes the strength needed to serve God faithfully.  Think church work is easy?  Ask one of your youth leaders how easy it is to train the next generation.  Ask your men’s and women’s ministry leaders or your outreach team.  Ask your pastor, who in addition to preaching bleeds daily for the hurts and sins of his congregation.

Could it be that you, too, are one who is strong in respect to power?  I am not saying you could bench 650, but has God given you strength or gifts in a certain area that He wants you to use for the work of His house?  The answer is yes, He has.  The real question is whether you know what that strength is and are willing to use it for His service.

Lord, I often ask for strength to get through my day.  Today I ask You to show me the strength you have already given me and how You want me to use it in Your service.  You are my King.  Command me as You will.  Amen.
Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 22, 2013

September 22 (2 Kings 22:11)

When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes.  (ESV)

When the Scriptures were discovered and brought to Josiah, King of Judah, he had an interesting reaction.  He tore his clothes, which was a sign of repentance.  He did not mull things over.  He did not ask for second opinions.  He did try to rationalize his way out of what he heard.  He took the word of God seriously and responded immediately.

I would like to say that is my reaction whenever I read the Bible, but if I said that, you would know I was lying.  We may think about a difficult passage, promising God and ourselves we will do something with it when we have figured it out, but….  Yeah, right.  We may try to find a commentary that reads it in a different way to let us off the hook.  We may tell ourselves that the passage only applied to people back in biblical times, but not to us today.

Josiah sets us with a challenge.  Do we dare to respond immediately to what we read?  Do we have the courage, the good, old-fashioned guts to take the Bible at face value and do what it says without question?  It is a challenge I would like to try.
Lord, Your word convicts, guides, and instructs me.  It is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.  Give me the courage to follow it rather than my own darkened reason.  In the name of Jesus, the Word made flesh and the true light in our darkness, I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 15 (2 Kings 19:14)

Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord.  (ESV)
Hezekiah, king of Judah, had received yet another threatening message from Sennacherib, king of Assyria.  The Assyrian king had continually mocked the Lord and taunted Hezekiah and his people for following Him.  Through his messenger Rabshakeh, Sennacherib tried to chip away at the faith of Hezekiah by pointing out that the gods of all the countries Assyria had conquered had been unable to save them and that the Lord was just as weak and useless.
When Hezekiah received the latest attempt to undermine his faith, he did what a man of faith does.  He took the matter straight to God.  Rather than try to reason the matter out on his own, rather than pull himself up by his own bootstraps, he boldly laid the issue at the feet of God.
We live in the age of Sennacherib and Rabshakeh.  Faith in God is mocked and undermined throughout the wealthy and powerful nations and violently oppressed in others.  Listen to the news.  Look at popular culture and social media.  What will you do when your belief in the Bible, your faith in the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit, your conviction that Jesus is the one, true way are attacked?  It is too much for me to handle.  I have to do what Hezekiah did.
O God, at times it feels as if I am alone in a world that hates You.  Everywhere I turn I see and hear vicious arguments against You.  Strengthen my faith, Lord.  Show me how to respond to the attacks on Your name.  Keep me close that I may never stray from You.  Amen.
Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September 8 (Matthew 11:4-5)

And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:  the 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.”  (ESV)

When the disciples of John the Baptist ask Jesus whether He is indeed the Messiah, Jesus does not respond with “yes” or “no” to this “yes” or “no” question.  He could have, of course.  The simplest thing would have been to say, “Yes, I am the Messiah,” and then to have gone on about His business.  Instead Jesus took this as an opportunity to help John and his disciples grow.

How many times do we ask God to give us an answer to a question only to be answered with what seems like silence?  We wonder why God cannot or will not just give us a straight response.  Consider, though, that God gave us eyes with which to see, minds with which to think, and hearts with which to understand deeply.  Why would He ignore all those gifts with simple, cheap answers?  Oh, that may be what we want, a quick answer, but God loves us more than that.  He wants us to grow and develop the gifts of discernment and wisdom He has given us.  Sometimes this means getting us to see things for ourselves.

What questions do you have for God?  Are they about major events in the world or about things more personal, more particular to you?  Ask them with confidence that God hears and will answer.  Then be on the lookout with all the senses and gifts He has given you to perceive the answer.
Lord, there are times when I buy into the lie of the enemy that You are not listening or do not want to answer my questions.  When that lie comes into my thoughts, help me to fight it by turning to the gifts You have given me.  Help me grow in my ability to see as You see, to hear as You hear, and to think as You think.  In the name of Jesus, my Lord, amen.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September 1 (Matthew 11:2-3)

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”  (ESV)

If you read these verses in isolation, they may not strike you as curious, but if you read Matthew straight through, then they seem quite strange.  Just a few chapters before in Matthew 3, we see John baptizing Jesus.  John was a witness to the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus in the form of a dove.  He was there when God the Father spoke and acknowledged Jesus as His beloved Son.  And don’t forget that John is His cousin.  What is going on here?

Doubt is one of the most common things to afflict followers of Jesus.  We may say to all our church friends that we have this great, unshakable faith, but remember that Peter, too, said he would never betray Jesus, and look how that turned out.  We all have our doubts.  I do, and so do you.  It is a natural condition of the fallen world.  You are not less of a Christian when a doubt springs to your mind.

So what do you do?  Jesus offers Himself, even to our doubts.  Remember how He responded to Thomas.  He offered His wounds for him to touch.  Even in your doubt, go to Jesus.  Take your doubts to Him, even if you doubt He is there at all.  He will always offer Himself to you.

Jesus, I am embarrassed to say that there are so many things that cause me to doubt You.  Fear, sin, pressure, stress…pretty much anything, really.  Come to me again and restore my faith.  Let me see You.  I need You today.  Amen.
Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins