Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 29 (Luke 2:19)

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  (ESV)

Mary has just given birth to her first child.  She is filled with the exhausted joy of any new mother.  There has been quite a bit of media attention with this one.  Shepherds have come into town telling everyone of a miraculous visitation by angels telling them that the Savior of the world has just been born.

The people have begun to leave, one or two at a time at first, and then in small groups.  The shepherds are going back to their flocks.  It is just Mary and Joseph now, and a crying baby boy.  The energy and excitement are dying down.  It is just a mother and her thoughts.

How have you experienced Jesus this Christmas?  What things has He shown you for you to ponder in your heart?  Do not rush on to the next thing in life too quickly.  Stay for a moment with the new mother, and like her, ponder and dwell on the true things of God.

You never cease speaking to me, Lord, even through the hustle and bustle of Christmas.  I want to take a moment now and treasure Your words in my heart so I may not forget them in the hustle and bustle of life that is to come.  May the Holy Spirit lead me into all truth according to the promise of Christ Jesus, my Lord.  Amen.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 22 (Matthew 21:8-9)

Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”  (ESV)

This is the passage we usually read and think about on Palm Sunday as we prepare for Easter, but consider it for a moment as a Christmas story.  When Mary was about to give birth to her baby, the world did not know her or Joseph.  No one knew what was coming, apart from three wise men from the east.  You and I have the benefit of the long view of history.  We know Who this baby was and what He had come to do.  If the citizens of Bethlehem had known what we know, they would likely have responded as we see in these verses from Matthew.

We are excited by the coming of Christmas because it means time off from work and school.  It is a chance to get together with family and friends.  It means fun and music, lights and decorations, and of course, shiny presents.

What if we took our faith seriously?  What if we realized that what we are celebrating is the arrival of God on earth?  Ancient people knew how to celebrate the arrival of a king.  There was joy and festivity, much as we enjoy today, but without question, the celebration was focused on the king.

Alleluia, O Lord, my God!  Praise be Yours forever from the bottom of my heart!  May my whole life be one glorious work of unending praise to You!  You deserve my most enthusiastic and exuberant worship!  With my hands, my voice, my heart…indeed with my whole being I offer it all to You!

Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 15 (Revelation 5:5)

“Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered….”  (ESV)

Jesus is without a doubt a lamb.  Scripture says so.  He is the Lamb of God sacrificed on behalf of our sins.  Make no mistake, though, this lamb is also a lion, and as a lion, He is a conqueror.

There is a reason there are more songs, more plays, more movies, more books, more poems, more physical items created for the celebration of Christmas than for any other time of the year.  It is a celebration to honor the birth of a conquering king.  Unlike other kings, who may have conquered a fellow king for the sake of enlarging territory, Christ the King has conquered death itself in the most cosmic and mystical of battles.  He did it for the sake of His people and showers them with the greatest spoil of war, life itself.

What does your King want of you?  How does He desire you to celebrate Him?  Is it with the activities on your daily agenda?  Christmas is not a cultural holiday, whose rites and observances are dictated by tradition.  It is the celebration of your King.

O Lord, my God and King, how do You want me to celebrate the birth of the conquering Lion of Judah?  It is so easy for me to get caught up in practices without truly thinking about them.  Show me how to honor You.  In the name of Christ Jesus, the Lion and the Lamb, amen.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December 8 (Revelation 1:8)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”  (ESV)

We all tend to focus on Jesus as a baby at Christmas, but go the other direction for a moment.  Just try to grasp how big He is.  You will not be successful, but try it anyhow.

Jesus spoke reality into existence.  His word brought about the Higgs boson, quarks, and atoms.  He spoke, and there was gravity.  The pull of the moon that causes tides in our oceans, that was His creation.  Distance so great it can only be measured in light years is contained in His speech.  Unfathomable does not even come close to expressing the inadequacy of our words to describe the Word of God, Who chose to become flesh.

You think Christmas is about your card and gift list?  Turn off the noise of your life for a few minutes and stand next to the immensity of Jesus.  Let your body, mind, and soul become lost in Him.  Now you are ready to worship the babe in the manger.

All I am and ever hope to do and be is nothing compared with You, O Lord.  Yet I offer all that I am and ever hope to do and be as my gift to You, not because it is a gift of significance, but because in the light of Your majesty, I can do no other.  Amen.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 1 (Luke 17:11)

“Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”  (ESV)

Ten lepers cried out to Jesus, but they used an interesting word for “master.”  Rather than use the typical Greek word kurie, they used epistata, a word that meant one who stands over, like a commander.  Indeed, Jesus does stand over all of creation.  He is the Word through Whom creation itself was spoken into existence.

Yet if we go back another level in the etymology, we see that the word means, at its root, one who stands near.  Jesus is the Lord and Master Who stands near us, Who is by our side even in moments of greatest suffering and need.

I don’t know about you, but for me, that is someone to cry out to.  I want to cry out to someone who is above me, someone who can actually do something to help.  I also want to cry out to someone who is with me, someone who understands because he is in the thick of it at my side.
Jesus, I need You.  I need You in so many ways I cannot list them all.  I need You in ways I do not even know, ways known only to You.  Have mercy on me, Epistata.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven R. Perkins