Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 30 (Matthew 27:46)

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  (ESV)

There are many reasons why we sometimes feel that God has forsaken us, and Jesus experienced them all.  Physical pain and suffering?  Jesus felt that on the cross.  Everybody turning against you?  Jesus felt that on the cross.  A burden of sin?  Jesus felt that on the cross.

We all feel separated from God.  Jesus experienced that separation, and it was painful.  In the moment, it is one the darkest of all sensations.  Faith comes in by allowing us to get through that moment to the truth, which is that God never leaves or forsakes us.  Exercising faith in those moments is an act of great effort and may seem impossible.  We have to cry out to a God we believe has forsaken us just to have the faith to believe that He has not forsaken us.  Welcome to the Christian life.

Do not feel bad when such crazy times come.  Jesus experienced exactly what you are going through, and He came out on the other side, glorious and whole.  He has promised the same for you.

Jesus, I cling to You even when I think that God does not love me.  I cling to You especially when I think that God does not love me.  You are the rock of my salvation.  I am holding on to You for dear life.  Amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March 23 (1 John 2:1)

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  (ESV)

When I am in particular moods, there are just certain songs I want to hear.  I have listened to them countless times, but I go back to them, knowing what they will say and wanting to hear them again.  When I need to be reminded of the love and forgiveness of God, I go to the book of 1 John.  In fact, I was out for a walk recently, and just the thought of this epistle brought a smile to my face.

I try not to sin.  I really do.  Yet the pressures of life in this world and my human weakness constantly conspire and the next you know, there I am in the soup again.  This verse is a great reminder of two things.  We should not sin, but if we do, we have a friend who will defend us.

My wife and I are on the same page when it comes to parenting and we back each other’s plays with the children.  Sometimes, though, I am able to come to our son’s defense because I remember what it was like to be a boy.  Jesus knows what it is like to be human.  He was one and He can plead our case as no one else before our Father.

Jesus, You know how much I think I can do everything, but You also know what a joke that is.  You know I am weak.  Defend me, Lord, and lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.  Amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 16 (Matthew 7:11)

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!  (ESV)

I am going out on a limb here, but I am going to expand the logic of Jesus.  He helps us understand something about the giving nature of God by pointing out the giving nature of human parents.  I want to suggest that the same thing may be true when it comes to God’s rejoicing and excitement in the achievements of His children.

I recently had the opportunity to lead my students at our annual state Latin convention.  They participated in academic, artistic, and dramatic activities related to the ancient world, were quite successful, and for two days displayed the exuberance of youth.  I could not have been more proud as I watched them operating in the sweet spot of their gifts.  If I, in my limited capacity, can know overwhelming joy and pride in my students, do you imagine God’s joy and pride are any less when you are living the way He intended you to live?

What do you do that gives God unspeakable joy?  What have you done in the past that makes Him burst with pride?  Are you living a life that makes your Father proud?

Father, I want You to be proud of the things I do.  Thank You for giving me the gifts and talents that You have blessed me with.  May all that I do, say, and think, be to Your glory.  Amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 9, 2014

March 9 (John 16:27)

[F]or the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.  (ESV)

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.  Those words from the classic children’s song have an important message for us.  There are times when we do not feel the love of God.  It may be that we have distanced ourselves from Him.  It may be for reasons that pass our understanding because, believe it or not, there are some things about God Almighty that our human brains simply cannot comprehend.  What do you do when you do not feel God’s love?

You believe in it anyhow.  That is what faith is for.  It is easy to believe when things are going well and you see the hand of God in everything.  The real work of faith is believing even when God seems to be absent or worse, when Satan whispers the lie that He is set against you.

When it is hard to believe that God loves you, cling to the words from today’s verse, which are from Jesus Himself.  You may not feel His love at the moment, but that does not change the truth of His love.

Father, help me to keep my eyes focused on You, even when I cannot see a thing.  When the world is black with fear and doubt, may I, through faith, cling to the truth of Your love.  In the name of Jesus, Who proved that love beyond all doubt by dying for me, amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March 2 (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

…brothers beloved by the Lord….  (ESV)

When speakers address an audience, they call them by the name that identifies them, whether that be members of Congress; friends, Romans, and countrymen; or fellow sausage makers.  Paul addressed the Thessalonians as those beloved by the Lord.

When you look in the mirror, is that how you see yourself?  As you drive to work in the dark of the morning, who are you?  What is the identity that drives you when you are not consciously thinking about your identity?  For many of us, it is the identity expressed in our resumes and lived out in the activities that provide our paychecks.

What if your fundamental identity were not teacher, business owner, or factory worker?  What if it were not even father or mother, husband or wife?  How would your life be different if your primary identity were truly the beloved of the Lord?

If it is true that You love me, Lord, then any other identity is an insult to You.  Why do I exchange my new nature as Your beloved child for one of my own making, or worse yet, for a lie?  In Your great love, help me to embrace that love and live fully from it.  In the name of Jesus, the source and picture of that love, I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins