Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 27 (Acts 18:9-10)

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent,  for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”  (ESV)

Not many of us have the courage of Paul to speak the truth about Jesus in the face of deadly opposition.  I wilt like a sun-baked flower if I think people will not like me.  Yet even Paul needed encouragement from God, and how did the Lord strengthen him?  He reminded him that he was not alone, that there were brothers and sisters in Christ who had his back and would stand with him.

I experienced this not long ago.  At a conference of educators, I discovered that several were believers.  They did not wear this information on their shirts, but it came out in subtle ways, and when it did, I was encouraged to be bolder in speaking about my faith.

Draw strength from those in your work, in your neighborhood, in your groups who, like you, serve Jesus Christ.  Do not hesitate to speak the truth in love.  In addition to sharing the gospel with someone who needs to hear it, you may be encouraging other Christians who need support to be bold.

Lord, You were brave enough to face death for me.  Help me be brave to share Your love with those around me.  May my life be a light to those in darkness and encourage fellow Christians to be the same.  In the name of Christ Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 20 (Psalm 8:3-4)

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?  (ESV)

Forty-five years ago today, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the moon.  It was an amazing achievement, and human endeavors in space have only gotten more incredible over the decades.  We have built vessels of unbelievable size, speed, and complexity to take people into space.  We have put satellites into orbit.  With telescopes like the Hubble, we have seen farther into the universe than anyone could ever have imagined.

Space exploration is important.  God made us with minds capable of such work, and we must do it.  And what do we find when we do?  A glorious creation that requires poets to describe it.  As we stand in awe of the breathtaking wonders of creation, it slowly dawns on us how small we are.  Then comes the realization of how much God must love the tiny creatures made in His image that He would provide for us to the point of securing our eternal place with Him through His own death.

Whether it is the glory of outer space, the deep seas, or your own back yard, let the marvels of nature be a constant reminder of God's unspeakable love...for you.

Father, words cannot express the joy I take in Your creation.  Not only have you crafted the most amazing universe, you have given me natural senses to behold it and a mind to explore its depths.  Glory be to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!  Amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 13 (Ephesians 2:10)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  (ESV)

What do you think of when you read the first part of this verse?  If it is anything other than an epic poem, a symphony, a handcrafted masterpiece, then you have missed something vital.  We may not think a lot about workmanship in an age in which we can buy the same product from the same store in a hundred different cities, but think for a moment of an artist, a poet, or a composer laboring over every detail of the piece he is creating.  The word for “workmanship” in this verse in Greek is poiema, the word that gives us “poem” in English.  Are you seeing the picture?

Stress and problems to solve do not define you.  A list of things to do does not define you.  Temptation and sin do not define you.  As Christian artist Michael Sweet once wrote, “You took this life and painted it with definition.”  You are defined by the attentive, caring hand of God, Who crafted you for works of true Kingdom significance.

How does the truth of this verse change your perspective on today or this week?  How does it cause you to see your relationships differently?  You are God’s poem, my friend, the lyrics to a celestial song.

Jesus, it is so hard sometimes to believe verses like this one.  It is much easier to believe the message of the world.  Give me the courage to live the life that You have created, even if it is more brilliant than makes me comfortable.  Amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 6 (Romans 8:5)

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  (ESV)

The brain is a piece of meat.  It is surrounded by chemicals and electricity.  It sends signals that cause fingers to twitch and knees to bend, and many things influence how it acts.  How much sugar, how much protein, how much alcohol, how much marijuana, how much caffeine…all these and countless more affect the behavior of our flesh.

Living according to the flesh is always to live by the dictates of our electro-chemical makeup.  We do this when we feel angry and lash out at someone, when we want something and take it with no regard for others.  Living by the Spirit is to make choices about our actions based on God’s will.  We do this when we feel angry and choose not to lash out, when we want something and choose not to take it.  The more this happens, the more our flesh acts with the Spirit, and we experience less conflict between the two.

How do your actions weigh in the balance between flesh and Spirit?  Living by the Holy Spirit is not a matter of muscling up and trying harder.  That is still an act of the flesh.  Living by the Spirit means surrendering to His gentle guidance.

Jesus, thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to live among us and to dwell in my heart.  May I never run so hard and fast that I try to outpace Him.  May all I do, say, and think, bring glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.  Amen. 

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins