Sunday, March 29, 2015

March 29 (Ephesians 5:1)

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.  (ESV)

I love the simplicity and straightforwardness of the Christian faith.  It is for freedom that Jesus set us free.  When you read those words, you may be tempted to say, “Well, duh!  What else would freedom be for?”

Strangely, though, many of us who have been set free by Jesus continue to enslave ourselves.  Does any of this sound familiar?  “I need to keep up a good act.  If they ever knew the real me, it would all be over.”  “I have to do this and this and this and then I have to go there to do that so I can get back here for that other thing.”  “I just have to hope this works out or I am ruined and then I don’t know what I’ll do.”

That does not sound like freedom to me.  Unfortunately, it does sound like me.  How would your daily thoughts, and therefore your daily actions, be different if you actually lived as if you were free?  In other words, how would your life be different if you believed the Bible as you claim to do?

Father, it is a daily choice for me to live in the freedom that Jesus provided or in the slavery of the world and my own thoughts.  May the Holy Spirit grant me the strength to choose the freedom bought for me at Calvary.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 22, 2015

March 22 (Amos 5:4)

For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel:  “Seek me and live.”  (ESV)
God is mysterious, for who could ever understand His love for sinners?  Yet He is also simple.  He is direct, bold, and clear.  “Seek me and live.”  We complicate matters.  We construct elaborate theories and philosophies.  We create labyrinthine bureaucracies and oh, how we love policies!  And while we spend our lives running around the mazes of our own construction, God waits patiently for us to realize the truth.
“Seek me and live.”  You may think this does not apply to you.  You are a baptized, Bible-believing, church-attending, serving-the-needy Christian.  Stop for just one moment and look at your life and see which metaphor fits it better.  Are you an eagle, soaring on the winds, or a rat scrambling through the maze?
“Seek me and live,” says God, the Father Who loves you and sent His son to rescue you from your sins and your sin nature and indeed from the fallen creation into which you were born.  As the old hymn puts, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
Father, I seek You today because I want to live.  I claim Your promise that those who seek You will find You.  I deliberately choose the life obtained for me by the death of my Savior, Your Son, Jesus Christ, and live that life in the gentle guidance of Your Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March 15 (Romans 6:4)

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  (ESV)

Today is the Ides of March, the day on which Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in 44 B.C.  Brutus, Cassius, and the other senators thought they were bringing about freedom from tyranny by assassinating Caesar, and perhaps they did, for about five minutes.  Yet anyone who knows anything about history knows that tyranny quickly sprang up again in Rome.  Its roots run deep throughout the world today.

Compare the death of Caesar with the death of Jesus.  While we recall the Ides of March as a significant event in history, no one participates in the death of Caesar in the way we participate in the death of Jesus through baptism, and for good reason.  Jesus was raised to life, and by participation in His death, we receive His life.  This is a great and wonderful mystery and the foundation of our faith.

Political and military struggles will continue until Christ returns.  Caesars will rise and Caesars will fall, and there is much to learn from the deeds of history.  No historical act, however, will ever bring life as did the death of our Savior.

Jesus, we pray to You because You alone are God.  May Your life reign in me even as I continue to die to myself.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 8, 2015

March 8 (Psalm 119:54)

Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.  (ESV)

People do not write songs about the Constitution of the United States.  I know of no song writer who has looked at the Indiana code of law and said, “Now here is some some great lyrical material for my next album!”  Yet how many songs do we know that are based on or taken directly from the words of Scripture?

There is Christian rock, Christian rap, Christian metal, Christian blues.  There are praise songs, gospel, southern gospel, and contemporary pop Christian music.  What unifies these genres?  It is their lyrics.   They all sing about themes inspired by or drawn straight from the Bible.  And then there are the hymns.  I love the great, old time hymns of our faith.  From my childhood to adult life, they have been the songs of my sojourn.

Let Christian music fill your car as you drive.  Keep it on your phone for when you go to the gym or work around the house.  Find the Christian artists in the musical styles that you like.  Soak up the great hymns.  Let His statutes be the songs of your life.

Lord, thank You for gifting musicians to play and sing about You.  I need them.  I need their words, which are really Your words, and I need their music.  Bless all artists who serve You with the talents You have given them.  In the name of Christ Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March 1 (Psalm 119:5)

Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!  (ESV)

What makes it onto your prayer list?  I pray for family and friends and for the needs of my day.  I pray for friends of friends when I am aware of their needs and I pray for larger issues in the world around.  Fundamentally, though, I am praying for one thing.  God, help!  Life is challenging beyond our ability to handle it on our own.  It seems like an ongoing prayer just to ask for God’s help getting through the next minute.

But what if…?  What if for one fleeting moment our focus was not on our own needs?  What if we looked up from the struggles of life to focus on God?  Could you imagine loving Him so much that your prayer was a heartfelt plea to be faithful to His word?  Seriously, think about that.  Most of the time I am asking God to help me achieve my will.  What if I prayed for help to do His?

God wants us to share with Him our needs.  He invites us to cast our cares upon Him.  At the same time, a relationship is a two way street.  If we are in a relationship with Him, it only makes sense that we would want He wants, too.

Father, thank You for always being there to hear me when I call.  Today I ask also that You give me the strength and the grace to be steadfast in keeping Your statutes.  I want what You want.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins