Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 30 (Galatians 5:25)

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.    (ESV)

This may not seem like a verse suited for the first Sunday in Advent, but consider for a moment the last time you even thought about Advent.  If you are part of a more liturgical church, Advent may play a more prominent role, yet for most of our culture it plays no role at all.  Even many Christians get caught up in the stress of year-end activities in the mad rush toward Christmas.

Advent is a slower time.  It is about the build up toward and the expectation of the birth of God in the flesh.  It points us toward Jesus, and that is precisely the role of the Holy Spirit.  He is the quiet member of the Trinity.  Sadly, for many, He is the forgotten member as well.  Yet He dwells within each person who has been redeemed by the blood of Christ, directing them gently toward all truth and helping them lead a life worthy of Jesus.

I have known Jesus my entire life, but it has taken that entire life to learn how to walk in step with the Holy Spirit.  I need this verse every day, and especially at this time of year.  How about you?  Would it not be nice to follow the gentle leading of God the Spirit rather than running from the lash of the demands of this, that, and the other thing?

Father, thank You for sending Your Spirit to dwell within me.  I want to live by His strength and with His guidance.  I surrender myself to Your will that I know through Him.  In the name of Jesus, my Savior, I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 23, 2014

November 23 (John 1:3, Matthew 5:17, Revelation 21:6)

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  (ESV)

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  (ESV)

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  (ESV)

Is there even one issue facing the world, our government, your state, your place of business, your community, your family, or yourself that could not be answered or solved by Jesus Christ?  I am serious.  We sing our praise songs and then go right back to purely human reasoning to approach the issues of our day.  As I listen to plans and ideas and grand designs for handling this or that, I have to shake my head.  Much of what I hear is based on speculation of what people think will work, when the true solution stands available, yet ignored.

Jesus is it, folks.  As the verses above testify, He is the whole deal.  Approaching anything…from war and taxes to family challenges…without appealing to God and being guided by His Holy Spirit is ultimately a waste of time.

Thanksgiving is this week.  Families will gather, and talk will turn to politics and jobs and the issues in our lives.  When the armchair philosophies have all been exchanged, will those who follow Christ speak the truth?

Father, it is so tempting to follow the logic of others and to engage in conversations on purely human terms.  Help me to speak the simple truth in love.  Give me the words that You would have me say.  In the name of Him Who is the way, the truth, and the life, Jesus my Lord, amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 16, 2014

November 16 (Matthew 2:18)

“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”  (ESV)

This verse leapt to mind as I heard the news that a fifth Westerner has been savagely executed by the terrorist organization known as ISIS.  This young man, a humanitarian worker in his mid-twenties, was a recent graduate of the high school where I teach.

There are no words in the face of such savagery, such brutality.  Anger and well-intentioned platitudes are equally pointless.  Such events do, however, remind us that we live in a world at war.  There is darkness that wars against light, and so it will be until the One Who is Light from Light, true God from true God, even Jesus Christ our Lord returns.  He was born into just such a world, and savagery and brutality sent Him from it.  The bedrock of our hope is that He triumphed over such evil.  The wickedness of today is the same wickedness of Cavalry, but as Christ’s resurrection showed, that evil was foiled, for He took death and turned it into life for all who would accept the offer of His grace.

As the old hymn sings, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’s blood and righteousness.  I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’s name.  On Christ the solid rock I stand.  All other ground is sinking sand.”

Father, forgive all of us, for we know not what we do.  In acts of heinous murder and in moments of the casual lie, we stand accused before Your holiness.  Thank You for the grace of Jesus that extends to all sinners.  Comfort and bless those who suffer loss at the hands of evil.  We eagerly look forward to the return of Your Son and our Savior, Jesus, in Whose name we pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 9, 2014

November 9 (Psalm 62:1)

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.  (ESV)

Is this true?  Don’t jump to the end of the verse and start talking about how you believe in Jesus as your Savior.  I’m talking about the first part.  Do you wait for God?  Is He your sole focus so that you are not expecting anything else, like your own strength or some earthly program, to save you?  Do you wait on Him in silence?

I am struck over and over again by how much of a frenzy my life is.  I am much more like one of the Greek warriors in the Trojan War, about whom Homer said, “Now here, now there, he darts from place to place.”  I want to work out my own salvation.  I do not mean my eternal salvation, but I want to make things work out for me in the here and now.  I try to make it happen, and when I do pray, it is not a period of waiting in silence.  I hurl my to-do list at God and say amen.

David was a man after God’s own heart.  God Himself said so.  He must have known something about living a godly life, and unless I miss my guess, this was anchored in a quiet waiting upon God.

Lord, I know I must seem silly running around trying to accomplish things on my own.  This day I commit to slowing down.  I am also not going to ask You for anything, at least not with the anxiety of my mind.  You know the true needs of my heart.  I am simply going to wait on You in silence.  Amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November 2 (Galatians 3:3)

Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  (ESV)

If you have grown up knowing how to swing a bat, hit a golf ball, or perform any other athletic feat, only to have a coach or trainer instruct you in a new and better way, two things will happen.  You will experience success with your new method and at first, and then you will start to perform poorly and not know why.  You may find yourself frustrated, but your coach will quickly spot the problem.  You have reverted to your old way of doing things.

This is true of anything, including our walk in faith.  Our natural tendency is to rely on our own strength.  We hear the call of Jesus and begin to walk by faith.  We are in step with the Holy Spirit, and then all of a sudden, we find ourselves weak, exhausted, and frustrated from trying to move mountains with our own two hands.  We have gone back to living life on our own terms.

Or maybe I am the only one who does this.  I will have days where it seems I am floating, just flowing through life in the smooth grace of God, and the next moment I am swinging away like King Kong swatting at the planes that buzzed his head.   Oh, you, too?

Jesus, I really do not want to live by my strength, which is nothing more than weakness compared with the power of Your Spirit living within me.  Help me to slow down and get back in step with the Holy Spirit, Who guides me as You promised He would.  Amen.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven R. Perkins