Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 29 (Acts 1:12)

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away.  (ESV)

This hardly seems like a verse on which to base a devotion.  It certainly is no John 3:16 and seems to serve no more purpose than to give the setting for whatever is the really important message.  Yet in this verse is an important key to living the Christian life…obedience.

Go back and read the first eleven verses of Acts 1.  You will see that Jesus had appeared to the apostles after His resurrection.  In verse 4 He told them not to leave Jerusalem, explained some things about the Holy Spirit, and then ascended into heaven.  After this heavy hitting passage, the very next thing Scripture tells us is that the apostles did exactly as Jesus had told them.  They went back to Jerusalem.  They obeyed Him in this simple, seemingly trivial instruction.

We all want burning bush, Damascus road experiences.  We want grand messages from God.  Do not overlook the little things.  What simple thing has God asked of you that you were too busy to notice?  Jesus told the apostles to stay in Jerusalem, and they did.  That is the Christian life.

Lord, as I strain my eyes into the distance for some grand vision, help me not to miss what is right at my feet.  Quiet my spirit so I may hear truly from You.  Help me be quick to obey, even in the small things.  In the name of Jesus, Who was obedient even unto death, I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 22 (Matthew 12:49)

And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!”  (ESV)

Our son and daughter have many nicknames around our house.  One for our daughter is “Sissy” because she is her brother’s sister.  Recently, she referred to my wife as Sissy, and this caused us to pause a moment.  With the patience of a nine year old who has to explain the obvious to rather dim adults, she said, “She is my sister in Christ.”

Our relationship with Jesus not only trumps all others, it redefines them.  Coworkers and strangers become family.  People who have hurt us become those we love.

If this is true, and it is, how would it change the way you look at others?  Think for a moment about that co-worker you do not really like.  Picture the politician you love to rail against.  Call to mind all those you avoid, gossip about, or malign.  Now think of all of them as brothers and sisters in Christ.  Ouch.  It makes a difference, doesn’t it?

Lord, You have called me Your brother and friend, yet I treat other members of our family, well, You know.  Help me to love as You do, Jesus.  It does not come easily to me.  In Your name I pray, amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, June 15, 2014

June 15 (Psalm 22:3)

You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.  (ESV)

I was driving with our son recently, and we were listening to one of my favorite albums from back in the day, Steve Camp’s 1983 Fire and Ice.  When the song “It is Good” came on, I was struck by the huge contrast between secular and Christian music…once again.  The message of the song is to praise God even, or especially, when you don’t feel like it.  Contrast that with Elton John’s “Sad Songs,” which advises that when all hope is gone we should “tune in and turn them on.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I love plenty of secular music.  Yet this is a clear example of how differently the world looks at things.  When I am down I should listen to sad songs?  Really?  That may seem like the right thing to do, and praising God when you are down is certainly not intuitive and takes some work.  Scripture tells us, however, that God inhabits the praises of His people.  Does it not actually make more sense to have your loving Father with you when all hope seems gone?

Try it.  As Amy Grant sang, “Sing your praise to the Lord.  I can never tell you how much good that it’s going to do you.”

God, I will praise You when things are good and I will praise You when things are bad.  Your praise will be in my heart and on my lips when I awake and when I lie down.  May my life proclaim Your praise forever!

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 8 (Mark 10:33)

See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles.  (ESV)

He says it in such a matter-of-fact way.  “We are going to Jerusalem.  I am going to be executed.  Be sure to pack extra socks.”  It is one thing to admire this from a distance, but put yourself in the place of Jesus for a moment.  Think about driving a few miles to a place where you know people are lying in wait to kill you.  Imagine the anxiety that would build into raw fear as you got closer and closer.

I don’t know how He did it.  I have no idea how He suppressed the natural, human desire for self-preservation.  Yes, Jesus was God, but He was fully human, too.  He had to overcome the most basic instinct to save His life in order to save ours.  And He had to overcome it again and again, with each and every step on the way to Jerusalem, knowing He could turn around at any time.

He did it for you and me.  With each one of those steps, He fought back the natural desire to go anywhere but Jerusalem.  He willingly walked a slow, anxious journey so that you and I could have immediate passage to a life we do not deserve.  Forget not knowing how He did it.  I cannot get my head around why.

Jesus, I really do not get it.  I cannot come close to understanding the how and why of Your love.  When confronted by the enormity of it all, the only thing I can do is accept it and say, “Thank You!”

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June 1 (Job 27:6-7)

[T]ill I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.  My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.  (KJV)

This is how I want to live.  Job has suffered mightily, but he simply will not give up or give in.  He will not do anything that would damage his integrity and righteousness. 

My dad’s mother used to talk about the importance of a person’s good name.  What do people think of when they hear your name?  For more than two thousand years Job has been known for his patient suffering and unwillingness to sin in hardship.  His righteousness and integrity have survived intact.

Free will is a wonderful and terrifying gift.  We have the freedom to do what we want, but then again, we have the freedom to do what we want.  The choice is ours.  Whether it is suffering or temptation that confronts us, we can, if we want, stand with Job and hold onto our righteousness and integrity.  We can also throw it all away.

Dear God, give me the strength of Job.  I want to maintain the purity that is mine through You.  Jesus has cleansed me of my sin.  Help me say no to all the opportunities I have to stain myself with it again.  In the strong name of Christ Jesus I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins