Sunday, February 22, 2015

February 22 (Philippians 3:14)

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  (ESV)

I am blessed to still read to each of our children, son 14 and daughter 10, at bedtime.  I had recently had a late night and probably should not have read at all, but I agreed to read just little.  The chapter in the book I was reading our son was a great battle scene in which swords were flashing and the contest between good and evil uncertain.  At the midpoint, I realized how long the chapter was and closed the book, promising to finish the next night.

Our son leapt up and declared the obvious.  You can’t stop in the middle of a battle, he said, pointing out that you would never pause Gladiator, Braveheart, or Troy in the middle.  Smiling from ear to ear at the wisdom of our son, I pulled out the bookmark and finished the chapter.

Out of the mouths of babes.  Our son was right, and so was Paul.  The Christian life can be a battle.  Sometimes it is the battle against temptation and our own sins.  It is also the battle against sin out in the world, the challenges of witnessing for Christ, and the daily grind of following in our Lord’s footsteps again today the same as yesterday and the day before.  It is a battle that we must not quit in the middle.

Jesus, when I get overwhelmed by the battles of life and just want to quit the good fight, help me to remember that You saw Your battle all the way from the cross to glory.  Help me see my battles through with Your strength.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, February 15, 2015

February 15 (John 16:27)

for the Father himself loves you….  (ESV)

I wanted to find proof in the Bible that God loves me.  I know, I know.  You will say that the whole Bible is about the love of God, and you would be right, but I wanted to find a verse that says so explicitly.  I wanted something even more direct than the famous John 3:16, for while I am included by default in that verse, I wanted to find something more personal.

Guess what?  I found just such a verse.  And you know what makes it great?  Jesus Himself said it.  That is why I put the words of today’s verse in red, the way they are marked in some Bibles.  I wanted to highlight the source of these words so there could be no misunderstanding.  This is not the deduction concluded by deep theological speculation.  It is not a doctrine shared by some churches, but not by others.  It is not my own wish fulfillment.  Jesus Himself said these words.

What difference will these words make to you this day?  There are really only two answers.  Either these words will change everything or they will change nothing.  The effect they have depends entirely on what you believe about Jesus.

Father, my enemy would have me believe that You do not love me.  Your Son tells me You do.  In the midst of my fears and worries about life, may I cling to Jesus, even when I do not see Him, and reject the false terrors that fill my eyes.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, February 8, 2015

February 8 (Psalm 107:43)

Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.  (ESV)

An ancient scroll says it will teach you to be wise.  You eagerly unroll it further to see what it will say.  You are told to pay careful attention to what comes next.  What gem of wisdom does it hold?  What will it tell you that the rest of the world does not know?  You unroll a bit more and discover the secret.  You are to ponder the love of God.

You may be a bit disappointed at first.  That’s it?  There is no detailed ritual to follow?  No journey to take, no arcane knowledge to master?  Love has become such a common concept that it seems trivial, and perhaps that is just the point.  The love of God is something much different.  It is a transforming force that changes reality itself.

So start with yourself.  Where have you seen God’s steadfast love in your life?  Where have you seen it in the lives of others?  As you ponder this love that is like no other, you will come to see that all other human reasoning falls by the way. 

Father, it has become cliché to talk of Your love.  I never want that incredible gift to become worn out, old hat, yesterday’s news.  May the incredible power of Your love burn brightly every day in my heart and in my life.  In the name of Jesus, Who gave that love to me, amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February 1 (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  (ESV)

You and I have a responsibility, a duty, to let God comfort us.  For many of us, that sounds weak.  “I’ll take care of myself, thank you very much.”  We see it as a sign of weakness if we do not pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.  Yet the fact is, we have an obligation to let God comfort us, and it is not an obligation to ourselves.

As Paul reminds us, when we are comforted by God, we can then comfort others who are suffering any kind of affliction.  Why?  It is because we can speak from experience.  Which would you rather hear?  Someone who can quote a lot of platitudes or theory they have gained from a book, or someone who has personal experience of God’s love and mercy?

The next time you think you should not bother God with your problems, consider this.  What do you need to experience from Him that He wants you to share with someone else?  If you block Him out, not only do you miss your own comfort, you lose an opportunity to experience something first hand from God that you could share with someone else.

Father, I need Your comfort and mercy today.  There is so much surrounding me, pulling at me, weighing me down.  Strengthen and guide me, Lord, not just to handle the things in front of me, but so that I may be able to share Your love and grace with someone else who needs.  In the name of Jesus, my loving Savior, amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins