Sunday, September 27, 2015

Seeing As Jesus Sees (1 in a series of 4)

September 27 (Ephesians 4:18)

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.  (ESV)

When I was in fifth grade, I got glasses for the first time.  In those early, bespectacled days, I marveled at leaves on trees and all the other details of the world I could now see…and my parents were mortified.  Why had I not told them I could not see those things?  My answer was simple.  I had assumed everyone saw the world the way I did.

We often make the same mistaken assumption.  We are frustrated, angry even, when people around us do not live Christian lives.  Setting aside the whole speck in someone else’s eye issue, does it ever occur to us that the people behaving in unchristian ways may not be followers of Christ?  Paul makes it clear that there are many people who are separated from God.   They do not understand the truth about life.  Their hearts are hard and their minds are dark.

If we saw a man stumbling down the road, blind drunk, would we fault him for not making an Olympic time in the 800 meter race?  We would, hopefully, show him what he could do, explain what it would take to get there, and then help him accomplish it.

Father, thank You for helping me see the truth of life by the grace of the Holy Spirit.  When I see that someone is not living in You, help me not to write that person off because of his or her sin.  Help me to see that person clearly and do what I can to lead him or her to Jesus.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Public Life of a Christian

September 20 (Matthew 5:14-15)

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  (ESV)

You cannot be a Clark Kent Christian.  Clark Kent is the secret identity of Superman.  Christians do not have secret identities. They must live their lives outside, in full view of everyone.  It just is not possible to be a Christian at home, but not in the workplace.

Ouch.  Talk about uncomfortable.  We are living in an age in which it seems as if everyone wants people to keep matters of faith to themselves.  We can post amusing selfies all over Facebook, but watch yourself lose friends if you post a biblical conviction.

When you read these verses from the Sermon on the Mount, do not interpret them in the light of the present day.  Do not see them in terms of how this or that person has seen them.  Understand them in terms of the rest of Scripture.  Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.  What does it mean for you to live out these verses in the context of your life?  God knows, and He will guide you.

Father, I confess two things.  I would love to shine a brighter light than I do and I am terrified to do so.  Help me see clearly what You would have me to do and say among my friends, family, and coworkers.  In all things, may I represent You.  In the name of Jesus, Who took all the abuse of the world to the cross for me, amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Call and The Calling of Jesus

September 13 (Matthew 4:18-19)

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.  And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will  make you fishers of men.”  (ESV)

Jesus calls ordinary people to follow Him, and He calls them to use their natural gifts in new ways.  Satan would love to have us think that we are not good enough and that God will therefore not use us.  As is so often the case with the great deceiver, a half-truth seems entirely true.  It is true we are not good enough, but it is not true that God will not use us.

We do not have to worry about being good enough for God.  Jesus took care of that.  His blood washed us clean of our sins.  In His eyes, we are indeed now good enough, and as a result, He will call the plumber, the teacher, the senator, the scientist, the custodian, the artist, and the business executive to follow Him.

One of the great things about God is that He will not waste anything.  He will use the special gifts of each and every one of us in His kingdom.  What did He tell fishermen?  He said they will fish for men.  What do you do that you are really good at?  What is that thing that is as natural to you as breathing?  God will use that very thing, and other gifts you may yet discover, to build His kingdom on earth.

Father, thank You for calling me through Jesus.  Help me not buy into the lies of the enemy that would make me think I have no role to play in Your kingdom.  I want to use all that You have given me to serve You and bless those around me.  In the name of my Savior, Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 6, 2015

When a Christian Sins

September 6 (1 John 2:1)

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  (ESV)

I get it.  I am not supposed to sin.  I should not even want to sin.  Oh, but I do.  There are times when it just happens, almost without my thinking, and there other times when I am well aware of what I should do, but deliberately do the opposite.  What then?  My friends may not like me if they knew.  People who look up to me may look at me with less admiration.  What if I lose the opportunity to serve God as I really want to because people think I am not good enough when they learn the truth about me?

I am willing to be that some, or all, of those concerns sound familiar.  I hear that nagging voice of doubt almost every day.  Guess what?  That nagging voice can take a hike.  We have an advocate, one who will plead our case before God Himself.  Now, that is a pretty good deal right there, but wait, as they say on the infomercials, there’s more!  That advocate is none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, the one true God Who walked the earth as a human and willingly died for me because He loves me just that much.

Do we really grasp that?  Jesus Christ defends us before God when we sin.  Naturally we should not make a habit of it, but when it does happen, Jesus has our backs.  As our pastor recently said, confess, repent, and get on with your life.

Jesus, thank You so much for the grace of Your forgiveness.  Thank You for Your love that heals and restores and catches me when I fall.  Help me to live from a place of confidence in Who You are and all that You have done and continue to do for me.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins