Sunday, January 25, 2015

January 25 (Acts 4:17-20)

“But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”  (ESV)

“You are welcome to believe whatever you want, but it is not appropriate for you to speak about your religious beliefs in public.”  Does it sound familiar?  Make no mistake.  It would be beyond absurd, and quite ineffective, too, if the kid at the store refused to sack groceries until each customer recited the Lord’s Prayer or affirmed the Nicene Creed.  Forcing others to go along with our beliefs is not something even Jesus taught, so there is no reason for us to do it.

But does that really extend to our speaking about what we know to be true?  Not at all.  When a friend asks how we can believe in a loving God in the face of tragedy, we need not hide the truth.  When someone wonders how to approach a situation, we can and should freely offer our thoughts that are rooted in the One Who is Truth, Jesus Christ.

So where does this play out for you?  Are there places in your life where you feel hesitant to speak freely about Jesus?  Why is that?  If it is from a desire to be sensitive and not to overwhelm someone who is seeking the truth, then tread gently.  Everything we say must be wrapped in love.  If, however, it is a fear of violating some human notion of political correctness, then consider the response of Peter and John.

Lord, I want to shout Your name all day long simply because I love You.  Holy Spirit, guide me to know how much to say in any situation so that whatever I say brings glory to God in the moment and serves, even in a small way, to lead someone to the love of Christ Jesus, in Whose name I pray, amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, January 18, 2015

January 18 (Jude 1:5)

…Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt….  (ESV)

Some people say they prefer the God of the New Testament to the God of the Old Testament, for the latter they see as one of anger and the former one of love.  The problem with this view is that it ignores the fact that there is only one God in the Bible.  He is one God in three persons, eternally existing as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  In other words, it was the same God Who rescued the Israelites from Egypt and Who died on a cross for our sins.

It is important for us to remember that Jesus is God.  If He is not, if He is merely another spiritual leader with some helpful sayings for life, then we can take Him or leave Him as we choose.  There are some things Plato said that I agree with, but others that I do not.  I am under no compulsion to dedicate my life to everything a purely human being says and does.  With Jesus, it is different.  As God, He presents me with an all or nothing choice.

So which is it with you?  You may well go to church, serve your community, read the Bible, pray, and worship God with others, yet you could still do all that without going all in when it comes to Jesus.  Remember that the One you claim to follow is the One Who spoke reality into existence. 

Jesus, You are my savior, my friend, and my God.  May all that I do, say, and think at every moment of every day reflect that truth.  I want my life to be one of unending worship, for You are truly worthy of all the glory my life can produce.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, January 11, 2015

January 11 (Romans 5:8)

[B]ut God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (ESV)

Our neighbors, who have already moved and are in the process of selling their house, asked our son to shovel their snowy driveway before an upcoming open house.  In the wee hours of the morning, however, he became quite ill, prompting a trip to the ER.  Later that morning, as he slept, I shoveled our neighbor’s driveway.

As I fought the snow and cold, I thought about why I was doing it, and the answer was simple.  Our son had an obligation that he could not fulfill.  Because of my love for him, it never crossed my mind to do other than I did.

You know where this is going.  All of us are ill with the sickness of sin.  We cannot possibly fulfill the obligation of perfection we owe our perfect God, nor can we pay the penalty for falling short.  God loves His children so much that for Him there was no other choice and no second thought.  He would pay the price and do what it took to perfect us.

Lord, the simple truth of Your love is too much for me to comprehend.  I mean it.  I really cannot grasp the magnitude of what You have done for me through Jesus.  All I can do is acknowledge it and hope that I can live in a way that shows You my thanks.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, January 4, 2015

January 4 (2 Peter 3:9)

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  (ESV)

It is the start of the new year, and we all look forward to certain things that we hope will happen, but is the return of Jesus really one of them?  There may be anniversaries or activities that we have every reasonable expectation will take place this year, but most of us, if we give any thought at all to the return of Jesus, think of it is a vague event in the far distant future.

And why not?  We have been waiting two thousand years.  It is no surprise that for some this may lead to despair.  Maybe He is not coming back after all.  Peter reminds us that His delay is actually a sign of His immense love for us.  He wants all of His children to repent and turn their lives toward Him.

If you are reading this, then you are probably one who says that you do follow Jesus.  That is great!  For you.  Yet there are countless friends and family around us who are the walking dead.  They seem to be doing okay, but because they have not turned from their own path to follow Jesus, they are living in death.  Consider the delayed return of our Lord an opportunity to share the true life that you know with those you love.

Lord, help me take seriously the danger for my friends and family who do not know You.  Ignite in me the passion to shine Your light so brightly that they are drawn to surrender their lives to You and in so doing may know true life.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Whose resurrection from the dead brought life to me and to the world, amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins